5 Bold Predictions for New York Giants' Week 14 Matchup
The New York Giants will face a San Diego Chargers squad on Sunday afternoon that is fourth-best in the NFL in offensive yards gained. Conversely, they are fourth-worst in yards allowed defensively. Any daring prognostications should probably favor both offenses in this game in order to increase the chances of actually being right.
The following slides will cover how these offenses can surprise, even in a game that figures to feature plenty of possessions that move deep into the other team’s territory.
Will this style of play result in a Big Blue win or a disappointing trip to the West Coast? Flip through the following five slides to find out.
Eli Manning Will Throw a 40-Plus-Yard Touchdown Pass
A shaky offensive line, errant passes and miscommunication and mistakes by the receivers have turned the preseason hype into a pipe dream.
One statistic that shows how ordinary the Giants' pass offense has been is the fact they have only two passing touchdowns over 40 yards through the first 12 games of the season. Even worse, they haven’t had any since Week 4, when Cruz hauled in a 69-yard pass from Manning for six points (the Salsa King also had a 70-yard touchdown reception in Week 1).
The Chargers, however, are a perfect opponent to hit paydirt against with a long pass.
San Diego has allowed 46 pass plays of 20 yards or more, which is tied for 25th in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. In addition, the Chargers are surrendering 8.4 yards per pass attempt, a mark that ties them with the St. Louis Rams for next-to-last in the league.
In short, it is not hard to throw the ball deep against the Chargers. Expect Manning to find one of his wideouts for a long touchdown on Sunday.
Antonio Gates Will Have a Receiving Touchdown
Antonio Gates is having an excellent season, and he's on pace to play in all 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2009. The 33-year-old has 64 catches, 39 of which have secured a first down, for 726 yards.
Gates, however, has only three touchdowns, which is a low number considering that he has scored at least seven in nine consecutive seasons.
He will find the end zone on Sunday, though, simply because the Giants have a tendency to surrender touchdowns to tight ends. They have allowed eight to the position this season, including four in two games by Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Tony Romo-to-Witten connection is similar in caliber to Philip Rivers and Gates. New York will struggle to contain this elite combination, leading to at least one score, if not two.
The Giants Will Score a Touchdown Every Time They Enter the Red Zone
New York’s red-zone offense has been a hot topic among Giants fans over the last few years, especially when the team is struggling. Any negative discussion about offensive ineptitude inside the opponent’s 20-yard line inevitably leads to a critique of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s play-calling.
Well, Gilbride will be left alone, at least for a week, because the Giants will turn in a perfect red-zone performance on Sunday.
The Chargers' poor defense is definitely one reason why, but how they protect their goal line at home is a big factor as well.
Overall, San Diego is allowing a touchdown on 58.82 percent of opponent’s trips into the red zone in 2013, according to TeamRankings.com. This is a respectable percentage, but their effectiveness in this area decreases dramatically at Qualcomm Stadium. At home, they are allowing a touchdown 70 percent of the time in their red zone. This mark is fifth-worst in the NFL.
When you factor in that the Giants are modestly more efficient in the red zone on the road compared to their season average (54.55 percent versus 48.28 percent overall), touchdowns should be on the menu when New York crosses the San Diego 20-yard line.
Saying they will do so 100 percent of the time is still a leap of faith, even with the encouraging data, but this is precisely why it is a bold prediction!
Philip Rivers Will Have at Least 350 Yards Passing
One metric that demonstrates this improvement is that Big Blue has only allowed two 300-yard passing games all season—by the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning and Scott Tolzien of the Green Bay Packers. However, neither of these quarterbacks was able to eclipse 350 yards against New York.
Philip Rivers will be the first to achieve this mark against the Giants in 2013.
Even though the Giants have held up well against the pass this season, they have only been tested by one truly elite air attack, the Broncos’ in Week 2. The Chargers, however, should also be considered a top passing team, given how they stack up against the rest of the NFL in several key categories.
San Diego ranks in the top five in yards passing per game and yards per pass attempt. Also, the Chargers are first in completion percentage at a jaw-dropping 70 percent clip.
Not surprisingly, considering these numbers, Rivers already has four 350-plus yard passing games this season. On a near-perfect San Diego day, Rivers should be able to move the ball against New York’s secondary with ease.
He also figures to get plenty of pass attempts because San Diego probably won’t emphasize the ground game against a New York defense that has been phenomenal stopping the run versus running backs since Week 4. Over their last nine games, the Giants are allowing opposing running backs to gain only 58.7 rushing yards per game on 3.1 yards per carry.
All of these factors will lead to Rivers’ big day, but there is one more that will help him surpass the 350-yard mark.
The Giants Will Win the Game
The final factor that will allow Rivers to accomplish the fourth bold prediction is that he will need to throw a lot to keep his team in a game that New York will ultimately win.
The Giants are currently 3.5-point underdogs to the Chargers, based on the line provided by Sportsbook.com, but they are clearly the better bet (pun intended) to win this game.
New York is hotter, having won five of its last six games, while San Diego has lost four of its previous five contests. Also, even though the Giants are only 2-4 away from home, they have won their last two matchups on the road—against the Washington Redskins in Week 12 and the Eagles in Week 8.
On the flip side, San Diego isn’t an imposing home team with a 2-3 record.
Led by a strong passing attack and an efficient red-zone offense, the Giants eke out a victory to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
Final Score: Giants 30, Chargers 27