The New York Giants and the San Diego Chargers will forever be linked together, as they completed one of the biggest draft day trades in 2004 involving star quarterbacks Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.
Unfortunately, both teams are mired in frustrating, losing seasons and find themselves in an uphill climb if they're going to the playoffs. Losing isn't an option on Sunday for either side.
Here are three bold predictions for the New York Giants at the San Diego Chargers:
QB Eli Manning Will Throw For Over 400 Yards
The Giants were expected to have a highly-explosive passing attack, as quarterback Eli Manning has the arm strength to challenge opposing defensives deep with the long ball. But, that hasn't transpired due to a lack of pass protection from the offensive line and Manning's season-long misconnection with his talented wide receiver trio (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle).
All will be forgiven if he can have a good afternoon of throwing the football against a shaky Chargers pass defense. Opposing quarterbacks haven't found it too difficult to throw deep on this secondary, as no starting cornerback has excelled at the position this season. Safety Eric Weddle is the best player of the starting unit, but he cannot cover three talented wideouts alone.
Ladarius Green Will Become the Main Threat of the Chargers' Medium Passing Game
Quietly, Ladarius Green has developed into an every down tight end for the Chargers, as he can maintain his block on running plays and has enough speed to stretch a defense on obvious passing downs. No question that Antonio Gates is a sure-fire Hall-of-Fame candidate and has been one of the team's best players for the majority of his career in San Diego, but Father Time has caught up with him this year.
Past foot and hip injuries have slowed Gates down, as he caught only three touchdown passes thus far this season, it's his lowest total in nine years. Opposing defenses still hold Gates' skill-set in high regard, as they often place double coverage on him downfield. Green's recent increase in production has kick-started the Chargers' passing game into overdrive, and his speed should exploit the pass defending deficiencies of the Giants' linebackers on Sunday. This should be an excellent combo for the remainder of the season.
Lets Have an Old-Fashioned Shootout
Neither team has played consistent defense all season, as they both have been guilty of making too many mistakes in crucial moments of games that often contributed to a loss. Though neither the Giants or Chargers are officially eliminated from the playoffs; it will be an uphill battle for either to claim a spot.
Usually in this atmosphere, offenses have no pressure to perform and often have outstanding games. Both of these team's offenses are red hot, as the Chargers are currently ranked fourth in total offense with over 400 yards-per-game and converting over 46 percent of their third down plays.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has completed a league-high 70 percent of his passes attempted this year. Manning has rebounded nicely from a disastrous start (15 interceptions and a 64 percent passer rating) to the season by throwing six touchdown passes and improving his QB rating to 86 percent during the Giants' recent four-game winning streak.