It is an NFL tradition that a franchise is granted a “honeymoon” period by fans upon moving to a new city. Oddly enough, the tradition has not been tested that often lately thanks to many teams prospering in their 1st season in a new location. The Rams did get a honeymoon upon arriving in St. Louis that lasted for a few months, until the despair of losing set in among fans in the Gateway City.
But it is the Rams’ new neighbors, the L.A. Chargers, who are already testing the patience of their new patrons from the City of Angels. An 0-4 record has not done much to quiet the cries that L.A. doesn’t need 2 NFL teams.
The Giants, who are hosting the Chargers this weekend, are also in the middle of laying a gigantic egg in the 2017-18 season. Improvement has come in small steps over the past few weeks – the final scores are getting closer, but New York continues to lose all the same.
Many pundits are pointing out the obvious – somebody has to win (probably) this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Bookies think it will be the Giants, who are installed as slight favorites on the betting board.
Who: L.A. Chargers at New York Giants
When: Sunday, September 8th, 1 PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, NJ
Lines: LA (+3.5) at NY (-3.5) / O/U Total: (45)
Eli Manning and Philip Rivers are still considered 2 of the better QBs in the sport. The question is, who has the better supporting cast in the desperate quest for 1-4?
The Chargers have had to deal with a brutal schedule, facing the Broncos, Chiefs, and Eagles. Their average margin of defeat in those 3 contests has been less than a touchdown.
Rivers played well against the Orange Crush, but the team couldn’t run up the middle or outside, and accumulated a deficit too large to overcome. The veteran gun-slinger was even better against Philadelphia in Week 4, passing for 300+ yards and 2 touchdowns. But in what has become a theme this season, once again L.A.’s running game was ineffective and reduced to an after-thought.
The ‘Bolts defense is giving up just enough points to lose, as units saddled with playing next to a pass-only offense often do. Melvin Gordon has rushed for 168 yards and 2 scores, but only 3.1 ypc.
Is it any better on the ground in New York? Consider that Paul Perkins is the Giants’ leading rusher after 4 games. The 22 year-old RB has 1.9 yards per carry and has literally gained less than 200 feet since September began. That’s abysmal. Eli Manning has taken 8 sacks, which is actually a low number considering that opposing DEs need not worry about the run but can simply tee-off and get to the pocket.
Clearly, this game will be won by whichever QB can compensate for a lack of rushing threat, or by which defense can best punish a one-dimensional offense.
Comparing Manning to Rivers is a wash at this stage of each vet’s career. But the L.A. defense can make a case for having an edge. Melvin Ingram has 5.5 sacks on the season, marking him far and away the most effective QB hunter on either side. Joey Bosa is a dangerous, physical talent as well, and LB Jatavis Brown has 41 total tackles.
We think that the Chargers will finally jump out to a lead thanks to their defense forcing a turnover or 2 early-on. That will allow Los Angeles to at least create some semblance of a running game, and isolate Eli Manning as a fine clutch QB adrift without a proper supporting cast.
Yes, home-field advantage will help the Giants. But this contest is 50/50 straight-up. The point spread favoring New York by more than a FG creates value in the underdog.
Take the L.A. Chargers to cover (+3.5) points.