The New York Giants travel to the West Coast to play the Los Angeles Chargers, a team that beat the Cincinnati Bengals on the road 41-22 in Week 13. The Chargers are having an up-and-down season but have positioned themselves in playoff contention with a 7-5 record.
Star quarterback Justin Herbert just threw for 317 yards with three touchdowns and an interception against the Bengals. Herbert currently has 3,547 passing yards, ranking fourth in the league behind Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Matthew Stafford.
Defensive-minded head coach Brandon Staley displays offensive competence and a ton of confidence in Herbert, rightfully so. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi incorporates elements of the Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints offense. The Chargers rank ninth in the NFL with an average of 26.2 points scored.
The Chargers also rank eighth in the NFL, with an average of 382.1 yards per game. They average 281.1 passing yards per game, ranking fifth, and their rush offense ranks 22nd with 101.0 rushing yards per game.
The Chargers rank 13th in the NFL in plays per game with an average of 64.1; the Giants are 27th in the league with an average of 61.4.
Let's get to know who's who on the Chargers' offense.
Justin Herbert's arm talent is among the best in the NFL. His velocity, touch, and ability to air the ball down the field should strike fear into defensive coordinators.
The Giants are good at mitigating explosive plays downfield, but it's going to be a challenge for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to slow Herbert down. Herbert has 27 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions this season.
He has made mistakes and attempted to force footballs into bad situations, so expect Graham to try and bait quick throws to robbers over the middle of the field, with Logan Ryan will more than likely in that robber role.
Herbert is phenomenal, and he has an incredible surrounding cast. Running back Austin Ekeler is one of the more dynamic dual-threat players in the NFL. His vision, contact balance, and burst are excellent. He has 663 yards on 149 carries (4.4 YPC) along with eight touchdowns, but he does have four fumbles, two of which occurred last week against Cincinnati.
Ekeler's receiving ability out of the backfield is superb. He has 56 catches on 68 targets for 518 yards and seven touchdowns. The Giants' defense has a propensity to allow check-downs to the flat. Ekeler should have a busy day on Sunday.
The Chargers use Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, and Larry Rountree III as the secondary back behind Ekeler. Jackson's experienced several injuries that he's now overcome. He has 20 carries on the year for 118 yards, with a long run of 75 yards.
Rountree III may be the most talented backup, but the rookie took a backseat to Jackson, who just returned from injury. Kelley has dressed the last couple of weeks but rarely sees the field. Gabe Nabers is the fullback on the roster who didn't play last week. Nabers has dealt with a knee injury. Tre Pipkins plays fullback as well when Nabers is injured.
Star wide receiver Keenan Allen tested positive for COVID-19 after a two-touchdown game against the Bengals. Allen has 86 catches for 929 yards and four touchdowns on 120 targets.
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Allen is the safety blanket over the middle of the field for Herbert, and he's one of the best route runners in the NFL. Allen dominates from the slot and aligns there over 60 percent of the time.
His presence will be missed if he can't clear protocol. He is reportedly vaccinated, so he has a chance to play on Sunday.
Mike Williams finally started to have a breakout season, but he slowed down in the middle of the season. He is coming off a 110-yard performance against the Bengals.
He has 55 catches on 87 targets for 854 yards and seven touchdowns. Williams is a dangerous contested-catch receiver with rare leaping ability. He's a downfield threat that the Giants must prepare for.
Jalen Guyton is a speedy receiver they like to use on end-arounds and quick-designed passes to get the football in his hands. Guyton has 18 catches on 30 targets for 289 yards and a touchdown.
The rookie out of Tennessee, Josh Palmer, also sees a solid snap share as the fourth receiver. Palmer is another downfield threat who wins 50/50 balls. He has 15 catches on 20 targets for 168 yards and one touchdown.
Los Angeles uses a solid amount of 12 personnel with Jared Cook and Donald Parham. Cook is a veteran with 36 catches on 56 targets for 400-yards and three touchdowns. Cook isn't overly athletic, but he still understands how to get open.
Parham is a 6-foot-8, 250-pound tight end who has three touchdowns on the season; he's a big part of the red zone package of Lombardi. He has 18 receptions on 23 targets for 177-yards and those three touchdowns. The third tight end used is rookie Tre McKitty. He's not used often as a receiver but has played 91 snaps this season.
Rashawn Slater, the star rookie out of Northwestern, is having a great first season in the NFL. He has allowed four sacks--he struggled a bit against Myles Garrett in Week 5--and has also surrendered 21 pressures. Slater is the sixth-ranked offensive tackle on PFF.
Storm Norton plays on the right side at tackle. He has allowed 42 pressures and six sacks on the season. He is a big 6-foot-8 but isn't overly athletic. Journeyman and longtime Charger Michael Schofield III starts at right guard. Schofield III gave up 16 pressures on 377 pass-blocking snaps, and he only allowed one sack.
Matt Feiler is the starting left guard. Feiler was a longtime Pittsburgh Steeler who signed with the Chargers this offseason. He's a good run blocker who is solid in pass protection but had rough games against the Raiders and Washington Football Team. Feiler has allowed 16 pressures and four sacks.
Longtime Green Bay Packers interior offensive lineman Corey Linsley is the starting center. He signed a big contract during the offseason, and he's a valuable addition to the offense.
Linsley has only allowed seven pressures and no sacks. Linsley is tied for third in terms of PFF offensive rank at center. The only centers ranked higher are Jason Kelce, Creed Humphrey, and Frank Ragnow.
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