One week before a key AFC West showdown, the Los Angeles Chargers will look to build some momentum with a home date Sunday against the New York Giants, who are banged up at quarterback.
Alternating wins and defeats since an Oct. 31 loss at home to the New England Patriots, the Chargers (7-5) arestill in the thick of the AFC West hunt, just a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chargers and Chiefs are set to meet next Thursday in Los Angeles. A second victory over Kansas City this season would give the Chargers the upper hand in the division, but it won't have the same impact if Los Angeles can't get past the Giants first.
The Chargers are a double-digit favorite this week, but coach Brandon Staley insists the Giants opponent will not be overlooked with the Chiefs looming.
"They have a lot of good players over there on that team," Staley said. "They're extremely well-coached. ... I don't know how anybody could think like that because all you have to do, in the NFL, is turn on the film and you're going to see a bunch of players that deserve your full attention. That's where our focus is right now; it's on the Giants."
The Chargers will enter off a roller coaster of a game last week at Cincinnati. They opened a 24-0 lead, stopped a two-point conversion by the Bengals that would have tied the game in the third quarter, then pulled away to a 41-22 win.
Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert threw all three of his TD passes in the first half and had 317 yards in the air. Running back Austin Ekeler had a pair of fumbles that turned into Bengals TDs but still ended the day with 104 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen, who caught two touchdown passes Sunday, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday. Wide receiver Mike Williams and cornerback Chris Harris Jr., were placed on the list as close contacts to Allen.
Allen is vaccinated, and the Chargers are optimistic all three can return to play Sunday with multiple negative COVID tests.
Star defensive end Joey Bosa left last week's game in the first half with a head injury but was a full participant in practice Wednesday, while defensive tackle Justin Jones (knee, ankle) did not practice.
The Giants (4-8) enter off a 20-9 loss at Miami last week, failing to build off a 13-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. Already challenged offensively with just 17.6 points per game, the Giants have been even worse of late, scoring 32 combined points over their last three games.
Making matters worse is the fact the Giants are still uncertain who will be their quarterback against the Chargers. Daniel Jones is expected to miss a second consecutive week with a neck injury, while backup Mike Glennon came out of the Dolphins loss with a concussion.
Jones was limited Wednesday, with the team practicing at Tucson, Ariz., this week. Glennon watched from the sideline while in concussion protocol. Coach Joe Judge thinks Glennon can return to practice Friday, with Jake Fromm taking the bulk of the snaps Wednesday.
It is an unfortunate situation for an offense that had just 250 yards of total offense last week.
"We know that we've got to be better on offense," said running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 55 yards against the Dolphins. "It's something that we haven't been doing this year, haven't been scoring touchdowns. ... I know the defense is annoyed because (they are) playing lights out.
"We've got to do a better job of playing all three phases and we're not doing it on our side."
Barkley was limited Wednesday with an ankle injury. Out of practice were defensive back Adoree' Jackson (quadriceps) and wide receivers Kenny Golladay (ribs) and Kadarius Toney (oblique).
--Field Level Media