(Updated: Updated Perkins’ status to out in EXTRA POINTS)
The careers of Eli Manning and Philip Rivers always have been intertwined, but neither envisioned being the quarterback of an 0-4 team when the New York Giants host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Manning was selected first in the 2004 draft by the Chargers against his wishes but was traded to the Giants an hour later in a package that included Rivers, who was selected fourth overall by New York.
Both teams have been happy with their signal-callers, with Manning leading the Giants to two Super Bowl victories and Rivers stacking up stats and accolades that have him on the same level as Hall-of-Famer Dan Fouts in Chargers’ lore. Rivers has captured both head-to-head meetings - winning in 2009 and 2013 - while Manning is 0-3 against the Chargers, also losing to the Drew Brees-led team in 2005. “I’m looking forward to it,” Rivers told reporters about facing Manning. “You’re not playing the other quarterback, but this could be the last time we’re both out there playing each other.” Manning is more concerned about ending his team’s misery - “There’s not a magic trick to get a win,” he told reporters. “There’s not any outside help.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Chargers -3.5. O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (0-4): Los Angeles is averaging just 18 points per game, and the club’s poor start leaves it a porous 9-27 since the start of the 2015 season. Rivers has passed for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns against four interceptions, but third-year running back Melvin Gordon has recorded just 168 rushing yards for a lowly 3.1 average. The Chargers rank sixth in the NFL in pass defense (192 yards per game) and are tied for third at 12 sacks, with Melvin Ingram tied for second with 5.5.
ABOUT THE GIANTS (0-4): Manning has thrown for 1,113 yards and six touchdowns against four interceptions, and he hopes to have the services of top target Odell Beckham Jr. (20 receptions, 205 yards), who is dealing with ankle and finger injuries as he departed Thursday’s practice early. New York only averages 15 points per contest and the running game has been dreadful, ranking 31st at 59.2 yards with Paul Perkins as the leading rusher with just 61 yards on 32 carries. The Giants are bracing to be without starting defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and Olivier Vernon (knee), which won’t help a unit that is giving up 23.8 points per game.
1. The Chargers hold a 6-5 series edge after winning the last three meetings.
2. New York rookie RB Wayne Gallman gained 42 yards on 11 carries in his debut against Tampa Bay last week and might start after Perkins (ribs) was ruled out on Friday.
3. Los Angeles signed veteran K Nick Novak and released struggling rookie Younghoe Koo, the fourth South Korean-born player in NFL history.
PREDICTION: Giants 17, Chargers 14