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Giants vs. Chargers: 10 things to watch for

Posted Oct 7, 2017

The Giants face the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday at MetLife Stadium:


1. FIRST ‘W’ ON THE LINE

For the first time since 2004 – the same year Eli Manning and Philip Rivers swapped places on draft day -- two teams that are 0-4 or worse will meet when the Los Angeles Chargers come into MetLife Stadium for an inter-conference game against the New York Giants. The winner will break into the win column for the first time this season while the loser drops to 0-5, a record no team has rebounded from to make the postseason since 1990.

2. METLIFE STADIUM DEBUT

This season, the Chargers and Chiefs will become the final two teams in the NFL to face the Giants in MetLife Stadium. The 29 other teams have already played at the venue, which opened in 2010. In the Chargers’ last trip to East Rutherford in 2009, Rivers threw an 18-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson with 21 seconds remaining for a 21-20 victory in Giants Stadium. With a win on Sunday, the Giants would even up the all-time series record at 6-6.

3. INJURY REPORT

GIANTS:
Out: RB Paul Perkins (ribs), C Weston Richburg (concussion)
Questionable: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/knee), DE Olivier Vernon (ankle), G John Jerry (hamstring), DE Avery Moss (shoulder)

>>FACT OR FICITON: PREDICTIONS FOR BUCCANEERS

CHARGERS:
Out: Brandon Oliver (hamstring), WR Mike Williams (back)
Questionable: OT Joe Barksdale (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (ankle), TE Sean McGrath (foot), WR Tyrell Williams (neck)

4. O-LINE SHUFFLE

While having one start under his belt at left guard this year, Brett Jones is also the backup center behind Richburg, who suffered a concussion in Week 4. Additionally, Jerry was a late addition to the injury report with a hamstring, meaning the Giants have some decisions to make for the lineup.

Right tackle Bobby Hart had his first full week of practice since aggravating an ankle injury in Week 2, which could allow Justin Pugh to return to left guard. D.J. Fluker started his first game as a Giant last week at right guard.


5. NEXT GALLMAN UP

Because of injuries to starting running back Paul Perkins and Orleans Darkwa, rookie Wayne Gallman will remember his 23rd birthday for the rest of his life. The fourth-round draft choice made his NFL debut against the Buccaneers, led the team with 11 carries for 42 yards, and became the first Giants running back to catch a touchdown pass in his first game since Rodney Hampton in 1990.

Perkins is out this week, opening the door again for Gallman against a Chargers defense allowing 163.5 yards per game on the ground.

6. ROOKIE PRODUCTION

In the first four weeks, NFL rookies have accumulated 5,835 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns, both of which are the most through Week 4 since 1970. While Gallman accounts for 50 yards and one score in that tally, Evan Engram, the Giants’ first-round pick, leads all rookie tight ends with 19 receptions, 200 yards, and 10 receiving first downs.



7. ROOKIES NO MORE

The Giants face the past three AP NFL Defensive Rookies of the Year in 2017: defensive end Joey Bosa (Chargers, Week 5), cornerback Marcus Peters (Chiefs, Week 11) and defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Rams, Week 9). Next week, they take on outside linebacker Von Miller, who won the award in 2011 with the Broncos. Bosa has 13 sacks in 16 career games and is teamed up with Melvin Ingram, who is tied for second in the NFL with 5.5 sacks.

8. MANNING VS. RIVERS

Sunday will be the fourth meeting between Manning and the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2004. Of course, the legendary quarterback draft class is defined by the Giants acquiring the future two-time Super Bowl MVP for a package that included Rivers, the No. 4 overall pick. Manning recently moved up to seventh in NFL history in both passing yards (49,327) and touchdown passes (326). Rivers is 11th (46,940) and eighth (320), respectively. Ben Roethlisberger, anther classmate, is ninth in yards (47,771) and tied for ninth in touchdowns (307).



9. DEFENSE LOOKS FOR BREAKOUT

Before finishing as the No. 2 scoring defense last year, the Giants did not get off to the strongest start, and the group hopes that is the case again. In 2016, their true breakout game didn’t come until Week 7 when they played the Los Angeles Rams in London, a game remembered for safety Landon Collins’ incredible interception return.

Including that game, the Giants allowed just 15.3 points per outing the rest of the way. Maybe they can turn things around this week against another L.A. team. “I think we’re there now,” linebacker and two-time defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “We just don’t have any wins to stand up for that. Last year, I feel like we were kind of back and forth. We had some signs of being really good, but we weren’t really good yet. We had to get better throughout the season. And I think that’s still in front of us.”

10. CLOSE CALLS

Giants fans, the Chargers faithful feel your pain. While Big Blue has lost back-to-back games on last-second field goals, 18 of the Chargers’ last 22 games have been decided by one score. They are 4-14 in those games, and over the last two seasons, the Chargers have lost seven games in which they led in the fourth quarter.