After starting the season with a 4-3 record, the San Diego Chargers have lost 4 of their last 5 games.
After starting the season with a 0-6 record, the New York Giants have won 5 of their last 6 games.
Both teams are 5-7, but heading in vastly different directions in Week 14.
It's easy to remember a month or two ago, when Chargers fans were writing "WIN" in pen next to this game on the schedule. However, this Giants team has gotten better as the season has gone along. The secret to their success? Turnovers.
When the Giants turn the ball over 3+ times, their record is 1-6. When they don't, they're 5-1. They've obviously gotten better at ball security as the season has gone along, which has allowed the talent on their roster to win games for them.
Make no mistake, Chargers fans. The Giants team coming into San Diego this weekend isn't an 0-6 team, or even a 5-7 team. They're a lot closer to a 5-1 team that's trying to scrape its way back to another playoff appearance.
If there's one thing I've noticed in the last month of poor play from the Chargers, it's the offensive line struggling to keep Philip Rivers clean. Specifically, in losses to the Broncos, Dolphins and Bengals, the Chargers QB has found himself running away from pressure and getting hit more often than he was during the first few months of the season. The one exception to this was the Chiefs game, after Tamba Hali left with an injury, where Rivers was comfortable and San Diego won the game.
Now, the obvious thing to do is point at King Dunlap's absence as the biggest reason for the drop-off in pass protection, and then celebrate his returning to the team this week. However, we should probably factor in the month of football that Dunlap missed with his injury.
All signs point to Dunlap starting at left tackle this week, with D.J. Fluker sliding back to right tackle and Jeromey Clary moving back to right guard (although, I'm not sure why). Theoretically, that should help. However, the Giants' stable of hard-to-stop pass rushers are starting to get hot. as they're wont to do late in the regular season.
This isn't necessarily a mark against Mike McCoy, but....
Who would you trust more to win a must-win game, Mike McCoy's San Diego Chargers or Tom Coughlin's New York Giants?
Yeah, me too. Don't hate yourself though, it makes sense. McCoy's roster wasn't great to begin with and is missing half of its healthy starters at this point, plus it's his first season as a Head Coach. Coughlin has been doing this coaching thing since the Stone Age, and has a history of leading his team on late-season runs into the playoffs. Now add in the fact that his offense is playing well enough to win on its own and the defense is starting to come around, and the scales look pretty heavily tipped in favor of the Giants.