Giants vs. Chargers: Preview, predictions, what to watch for – New York Post

Giants vs. Chargers: Preview, predictions, what to watch for – New York Post
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An inside look at Sunday’s Giants-Chargers Week 14 matchup at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles:

Marquee matchup

Chargers OLB Joey Bosa vs. Giants RT Nate Solder

Help, please.

Bosa usually lines up at left end, and there are not many offensive tackles capable of handling him by themselves. Bosa has 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles this season and can wreck a game. He has 55 career sacks in 75 games.

Solder remains the starter because second-year lineman Matt Peart has been unable to mount a real challenge — a nod to Peart’s lack of development, because it is not as if Solder has set a high bar.

Bosa at times will move over to the other side, and so LT Andrew Thomas must be ready for this assault. Expect to see an extra blocker on Solder’s side whenever the Giants are in passing situations.

Joey Bosa and Nate Solder
Joey Bosa and Nate Solder
AP (2)

Paul’s pick

It is the same sad song: Where will the points come from? Without a big performance from Saquon Barkley, fill-in starting quarterback Mike Glennon has no chance. Justin Herbert makes huge plays with his arm every week. The Chargers are not world-beaters, but they are explosive on both sides of the ball and that figures to be too much for the traveling team to handle.

Chargers 30, Giants 16.

Four downs

Last hurrah? After this season, Sterling Shepard has two years remaining on his four-year, $41 million contract. Given his inability to stay healthy and the presence of rookie Kadarius Toney as a slot receiver (though Toney also has been injury-prone), there is no guarantee Shepard will be back in 2022. He returns after missing the past five games with a quad injury to close out another losing season.

“You always want to put good tape out there, no matter what,’’ Shepard said. “You never know what can happen in this league so you always got to give it your max effort. We’ve been here before, I’ve been here before in my career and I think it’s always good to finish off the season with a bang.’’

In or out? The status of Chargers wide receivers Keenan Allen (COVID-19 protocol) and Mike Williams (close contact) was up in the air during the week, prompting Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to say, “I think my luck over the last 13 years in the league, they’re probably going to play.’’ He was half right. Allen (86-924, 4 TDs) is out. Williams (55-854, 7 TDs) is likely to play. The Giants are again without CB Adoree’ Jackson, making this a big challenge for rookie Aaron Robinson and Jarren Williams, most recently a practice squad player.

Making his mark: Rookie running back Gary Brightwell has one rushing attempt and one reception this season. He is not a factor on offense. But he is a fixture on special teams and he has made an impression.

“We haven’t had a guy cover kicks like him since Ahmad Bradshaw,’’ special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said.

Bradshaw, a seventh-round pick, is regarded as one of the Giants’ toughest-ever players. Brightwell was a sixth-round pick.

“He’s not your typical rookie,’’ McGaughey said. “When you watch him cover kicks, he’s hard to block one on one. It’s a hard, hard win against Gary Brightwell and that’s unusual for rookies.’’

Analytics calling: Be careful sending in the punt team against the Chargers, who have kept their offense on the field and gone for it on fourth down 21 times this season, tied for fifth-most in the league, and they do it not out of desperation but as a studied risk.

They convert at a rate of 61.9 percent, tied for sixth in the NFL.

“Any time that we feel we’re in an advantaged situation, then we’re going to use those tactics to the fullest,’’ Chargers first-year coach Brandon Staley said. “I don’t think from a data perspective that any of these decisions have been reckless.’’