The New York Giants have had a nice run, winning five of six and making themselves -- at least marginally -- relevant in the race for an NFC East. The resiliency shown needs to be applauded, and the fact that they have been able to thus far keep alive the dream of becoming the first NFL to make the playoffs after an 0-6 start has made the season interesting.
The dream, however, will die. The cards are stacked in a very heavy deck against the Giants at this point, their loss two weeks ago making it almost inevitable that they will head home at the end of this month without a playoff berth.
There are scenarios under which the Giants can be eliminated from the playoffs this weekend, the fourth such occurrence for them in the past five seasons.
[Related: Giants-Chargers Scouting Report]
All the Giants need to do to avoid any such scenarios kicking in would be to defeat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to happen.
The Giants still have not beaten a team this season which has a good quarterback who is playing well. Apologies to Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, but both he and his team are a shell of the group that won the NFC East a season ago. The Chargers await with Philip Rivers and an explosive offensive cast.
Rivers is, undeniably, playing well. He has a high-powered passing attack featuring in which his two leading receivers are tight end Antonio Gates (64 receptions) and running back Danny Woodhead (61 receptions). Pass-catchers at those two spots have been like Kryptonite to the Giants' defense in recent seasons.
Defensively, the Chargers are a statistically poor group. On paper the Giants should have opportunities to make some plays in the passing game.
There is the small matter of handling the blitz the Giants expect to see from the Chargers on nearly every other play. Nothing about the 31 sacks the Giants have given up and the season-long struggles of the offensive line tells you New York will be up to the challenge of figuring out where blitzers are coming from and handling them.
Even if they do, you have to wonder if all that blitzing -- which leads to 'hot' routes and receivers having to make decisions about which routes to run -- will bring the Giants' propensity to turn the ball over back into play.
Matchups aside, I simply think the Giants have to run out of gas eventually. Every game has been a playoff game for them for a while now. Sooner or later the reality that they are playing for 2014 has to set in.
True, the Chargers have lost four of five -- their only win coming against the suddenly-reeling Kansas City Chiefs. I think, though, that the West Coast trip and the San Diego offense will be too much for the Giants to overcome.
It was a nice dream while it lasted.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Giants 17