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Los Angeles Chargers-New York Giants Preview

Week 14 of the NFL season is here, and there are a number of interesting matchups to watch this week. The Los Angeles Chargers host the New York Giants on Sunday.

The Chargers, sitting at 7-5, are second in the AFC West, trailing behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, the New York Giants are 4-8, last in the top-heavy NFC East. The Giants, though not winning many games, have stayed competitive in several of their losses. The Giants are certainly not a team to overlook solely due to their record. This is the Chargers-Giants preview.

COVID-19 vs. Injuries

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to the Los Angeles Chargers this week. Keenan Allen, their star receiver, tested positive last Monday. He has been ruled out for the game on Sunday. Along with Allen, receiver Mike Williams and cornerback Chris Harris have found themselves a spot on the COVID/reserve list, but they still have a strong chance to play on Sunday. Regardless of whether Williams and Harris play on Sunday, missing out on Allen will be a huge blow to the pass-heavy Chargers offense.

The New York Giants may not have had a recent COVID-19 outbreak, but they have had a plethora of injuries to their roster. It seems like the Giants are incapable of staying fully healthy, constantly missing several key players for key games. For instance, the Giants will not have key players such as quarterback Daniel Jones, safeties Adoree Jackson and Jabrill Peppers, and linebacker Blake Martinez. If Williams and Harris both miss the game due to COVID-19, this game will prove to be difficult to critique, since both teams will be completely hobbled.

Matchups to Watch

Saquon Barkley vs. Chargers’ Run Defense

This will be an interesting matchup to watch for Chargers fans. A week removed after shutting down one of the best running backs in the NFL in Joe Mixon, the Chargers now face Saquon Barkley. The Chargers’ run defense has had its ups and downs this season. They play great against some fantastic running backs, but also let up huge running days against opponents like the Baltimore Ravens. That said, they seem to show up to play when you least expect them to. That begs the question, can they show up against a seemingly easy opponent like the Giants?

Saquon Barkley running the ball.


Though he has struggled in recent years, Saquon Barkley (26) remains a threat to any defense he plays against. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports)

Saquon Barkley was one of the most hyped-up prospects in recent history. Drafted second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley was seen as a sure lock to settle rushing concerns for the Giants for years to come. After a fantastic rookie year in which Barkley ran for over 1,300 yards and had over 700 receiving yards, it seemed like the Giants found their guy. Unfortunately, the injury bug found Barkley, and he has paid the price in the years since. This year, Barkley has 84 attempts for 315 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and to touchdowns on the ground. Regardless of how poorly the offensive line played, that’s a poor stat-line. It’s clear that Barkley is not the same player once promised in his rookie season. Whether he can reawaken his former self against the Chargers is up to him, but it is unlikely nonetheless.

Justin Herbert vs. James Bradberry

Justin Herbert in throwing motion
Justin Herbert’s versatility will be put to the test without his top target(s) on Sunday. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Since Allen is no longer available to return to the Chargers for their game against the Giants, the pressure falls on Justin Herbert to make things happen against a solid Giants defense. With Williams an uncertainty for the game, this looks concerning for the Chargers’ pass offense. If the Chargers do not have either Allen or Williams, that makes receiver Jalen Guyton the primary target for Justin Herbert. Though Guyton is a major deep threat, he is far from a good mid-to-close range threat. Herbert will need to rely on his tight ends and other receivers to move the ball downfield.

Wide receiver Josh Palmer has reliable hands and solid route running, but he has limited playtime in regular-season games. Tight end Jared Cook is a solid veteran presence, but his recent play could certainly improve. Guyton gets the most reps and, therefore, is the most likely to take over the starting job. That is if both Allen and Williams miss the game. As it stands, though, Williams is expected to return before the game.

James Bradberry is a solid cornerback in the NFL. Last year, Bradberry made a name for himself as a playmaker on a middling defense. This year, his defense remains about the same, but his production has dipped. Bradberry currently has 41 tackles, 11 passes defended, and three interceptions. His tackle count leaves much to be desired, but his ballhawk skills do not. His three interceptions earned him a spot in the top quarter of starting cornerbacks, tied at 15th in the NFL. Meanwhile, his 11 passes deflected is even more impressive, earning him a spot in the top 10. Bradberry can make life difficult for Justin Herbert depending on whether Williams plays or not. If he doesn’t play, expect Herbert to find some difficulty dealing with Bradberry.

Prediction

Under normal circumstances, this would be a fairly easy win for the Los Angeles Chargers. However, COVID-19 and other factors have played into the potential results of this game. As it stands, the Chargers are still favored to win this game, even when facing a loss of both Willams and Harris. The skeptic in me wants to say that this is the exact type of trap game that the Chargers easily lose on. However, fans must wait and see whether the Chargers are really going to take the Giants seriously or not. If they do, the Giants stand no chance to win. But if the Chargers do not, then the Giants stand a real chance to snag an upset against the Chargers. This has been the Chargers-Giants preview.




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