The constant shuffling in the defensive backfield has left the Giants susceptible to the big play; New York has given up 14 passes of 20-plus yards over the last three weeks. During that same three-week span, the Giants are allowing averages of 267 passing yards and 37 points per contest.
WR Vincent Jackson
Jacob de Golish/Getty
New York, for all its defensive woes, figures to put up more of a fight.
"It's a tough place to go on the road in a game that I think will say a lot about us," Rivers said. "We've put two (wins) together that many expected us to win as did we, but we've still had to go do it. This one will be the toughest we've had in three weeks."
Of course, the Chargers have some defensive problems of their own that the Giants are eager to exploit. Specifically, San Diego's bend-then-break run defense could be the perfect tonic for a Giants running game that has underperformed much of the season.
The Giants' running game ranks seventh in yards per game (141.8) and eleventh in yards per attempt (4.4). That could be a big problem for a San Diego run defense that ranks No. 27 against the run; the five teams that rank lower -- the Rams, Raiders, Buccaneers, Browns and Bills -- are a combined 7-32.
RB Brandon Jacobs
That's a lot to overcome for a unit that's already without All Pro Jamal Williams and key reserve Ryon Bingham, who are both on injured-reserve with triceps injuries.
The Chargers' patchwork front will contend with the dynamic running back duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw has been the more productive of the two, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, while the 264-pound Jacobs is averaging just 3.9 ypc. However, Jacobs is running angry as he seeks his first 100-yard game of the season and could be the bigger threat of the two backs.
If Bradshaw and Jacobs run over the Chargers, New York will keep Rivers & Co. off the field and negate San Diego's biggest advantage. However, if Rivers and the offense are able to jump out to an early lead, it will force New York to abandon its running game and try to pass its way back into the game.
Whichever team best exploits its mismatch will negate that of its opponent…and likely win the game in the process.
What mismatches will decide Sunday's game? Talk about it in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.