After spending the week out west in Arizona, the Giants will look to get back in the win column when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
The Giants came up short against the Dolphins last week, 20-9. The defense held Miami to just 297 total yards, including 68 rushing on 25 carries (2.7 avg.). But the offense struggled to move the ball consistently against the Dolphins' tough defense, gaining just 250 total yards.
The Chargers are coming off a big conference win as they went into Cincinnati and defeated the Bengals, 41-22. Justin Herbert threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense forced four turnovers and sacked Joe Burrow six times. The Chargers are 3-3 since their Week 7 bye.
Here are five storylines to follow on Sunday:
Who will be under center?
Daniel Jones' status remains uncertain because of a neck injury. In Miami, Mike Glennon made his first start since Week 17 of last season when he was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The veteran completed 23 of 44 passes for 187 yards with an interception. It was announced after the game that Glennon suffered a concussion and would enter the league's concussion protocol, although coach Joe Judge is optimistic he'll be able to start this weekend.
If Jones and Glennon are not cleared, Jake Fromm would start, Judge said. Fromm was signed off the Buffalo Bills' practice squad last week and hasn't played a pro snap since being taken in the fifth round of the 2020 draft our of Georgia.
"We're optimistic he's going to be fully cleared and getting ready to play," Judge said about the veteran QB. "Mike will be with the trainers for the most part of the morning and in walkthrough. He'll do some things with us in the afternoon. He'll be back out here and active through the walkthrough. Tomorrow will be a non-contact practice, which to be honest, for all of our quarterbacks really every practice on Thursday is non-contact. Friday will be a practice that he could be cleared full for and, again, the contact portion for a quarterback on Friday is lighter. We'll put him through some designed drills to make sure he's safe to go out there on Sunday, just as we did with Daniel earlier in the year coming off the Dallas game. In terms of the involvement of the quarterbacks, we're preparing all the guys involved, especially Mike, to come off the protocol."
Protecting whoever is at QB
The Dolphins sacked Glennon three times last week, marking the sixth time in the last seven games that the Giants allowed multiple sacks. Miami was able to generate pressure throughout the game, racking up 16 quarterback pressures and eight quarterback hits, according to Next Gen Stats. Despite the heat, Giants tackles Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder earned solid grades from Pro Football Focus. Andrew Thomas earned the highest overall grade (72.1, 85.3 pass block) and Solder came in at 72.5 for his pass protection.
Leading the way for the Chargers defense is edge rusher Joey Bosa. The former third overall pick and three-time Pro Bowler has a team-high 7.5 sacks and 15 quarterback, while his 88.9 pass rush grade from PFF is tied for the seventh-highest among all edge rushers. Los Angeles sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow six times last week, including two from linebacker Uchenna Nwosu. The linebacker brought his sack total up to four for the year, the second-most on the team.
All hands on deck
Regardless of who is under center for the Giants on Sunday, the team knows that other players need to step up.
"We know that we've got to be better on offense," Saquon Barkley said after the Miami game. "It's something that we haven't been doing this year, haven't been scoring touchdowns. And, you know, I know even though we're tired, I know defense is annoyed too because defense is playing lights out. So we've got to do a better job of playing all three phases. And we're not doing it on our side."
The defense has been playing some of its best football over the last six games. During that stretch, the unit has surrendered 20 or less points in all but one game, with the exception coming against the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Even in last week's loss to the Dolphins, Miami was only able to muster 20 points and 297 yards of offense, both of which were their fewest totals in four games.
"Look, you've got to -- we understand our starting quarterback was out today, which is similar to us going to Seattle last year, found a way to win it," Ryan said after the Miami game. "You've got to find ways on special teams, find ways on defense. And obviously offense had opportunities today. But we've seen it happen in the past. We've seen defenses carry teams…
"We're prepared to play some good defense, go get some turnovers, go score some points, support whoever's back there and get ready to have some fun on this trip and find a way to win on the west cost."
View photos from practice at the University of Arizona as the Giants prepare for their matchup against the Chargers.
Don't let Herbert get on a roll
Justin Herbert ranks fourth in the league with 295.6 passing yards per game, third with 27 passing touchdowns, first with a QBR of 67.30 and tied for first with five game-winning drives. And he is only in his second NFL season.
Herbert is the biggest reason for Los Angeles' success on offense this season. The unit ranks ninth in points scored and seventh in yards gained, and the numbers get even more impressive when you look at their situational football. The Chargers are converting on third downs at a rate of 44.4 percent (fifth in the NFL) and 61.9 percent on fourth down (sixth). In the red zone, Herbert is leading the Chargers to touchdowns at a rate of 64.0 percent (eighth). In last week's win over the Bengals, the young QB completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 317 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
"This is a very explosive team," Judge said about the Chargers. "It's a team with some explosive weapons on offense. They've got a very, very talented young quarterback who can make a lot of plays, extend plays. Very accurate passer. He really fuels the entire offense."
"He's a great quarterback, a great, young, strong quarterback," Leonard Williams added. "We're going to have to try to make them uncomfortable."
The Giants struggled to limit Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 13. Tagovailoa completed 73.2 percent of his passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Giants. It was the first game this season in which the Big Blue defense failed to force a turnover.
Containing Ekeler in both run and pass game
Austin Ekeler is the ultimate offensive weapon in the Chargers' offense. Going into Week 14, Ekeler has rushed for 663 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries (4.4 avg.). He is the clear lead back in Los Angeles' offense, as his 149 rushes are over 100 carries more than any other running back on the team (Larry Roundtree is second with 36 attempts).
In addition to his rushing ability, Ekeler has proven to be quite the receiver in the passing game. The 26-year-old back has racked up 56 receptions this season, just two shy of Tampa Bay's Leonard Fournette for the most among all running backs, while his 518 receiving yards matches Atlanta's Cordarrelle Patterson for the most among RBs. Meanwhile, Ekeler's seven receiving touchdowns leads all running backs and his 15 total touchdowns rank second in the NFL to Indianapolis' Jonathan Taylor (18).
"We talk about how (Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe) Lombardi is really structuring the offense. There are similarities to that New Orleans background he has in terms of how he's using a lot of the players," said Judge. "You talk about (Chargers Running Back Austin) Ekeler – there are similarities to either the (Darren) Sproles, (Saints Running Back Mark) Ingram or (Saints Running Back Alvin) Kamara type comparison, but he's really doing a good job getting this guy in space, getting him on linebackers, creating catch-and-run opportunities. He's one of the most dependable players in the league right now in terms of consistently producing yards and moving the sticks."
After surrendering over 200 yards on the ground to the Eagles in Week 12, the Giants' defense got back on track in the run game during last week's loss to Miami. The Dolphins gained just 68 yards on 25 attempts for an average of 2.7 yards per carry.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers ahead of their Week 14 matchup.