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Giants vs. Chargers, Week 14: What to watch on Sunday

Five things we're keying on when the Giants face the Chargers

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of 5-7 teams clinging to playoff hopes square off on Sunday, as the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers both look to survive and advance.

The Giants are a week removed from beating the Washington Redskins, and fortunately for them both the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have difficult tasks against the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, respectively.

The Chargers meanwhile stifled by the Cincinnati Bengals, and like the Giants sit third in their own division behind the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, both of which have seemingly punched their ticket to the postseason.

Here's five things we're watching on Sunday:

Philip Rivers vs. the Giants secondary

The Chargers own the No. 4-ranked aerial attack in the NFL, but Rivers has been held to fewer than 300 yards in three of the last five games. Only once in the past 10 games have the Giants allowed a 300-yard passer.

Both Corey Webster and Trumaine McBride could rejoin the defensive backfield for New York, which is holding opposing signal-callers to 231 yards per game through the air and just an 81.2 quarterback rating.

Jon Beason vs. Danny Woodhead

Not LeSean McCoy. Not Jamaal Charles. Danny Woodhead.

The latter has been the most effective pass-catching running back in the NFL this season, tallying 61 receptions for 482 yards and five receiving touchdowns out of the backfield for the Bolts.

Since being thrust in the middle of the Giants' defense, Beason's impact has been undeniable. After allowing 384 yards per game in the team's first four games without Beason, the Giants have allowed an average of 267 over the past eight with him.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

The Bolts have given up 48 points off of 16 turnovers this season, which ranks ninth in the NFL. The Giants have turned the ball over a league-high 31 times, but only eight times in the past six games.

Last week, the Chargers turned the ball over thrice against the Bengals. Not coincidentally, they have 13 turnovers in their seven losses compared to three in their five victories.

The Giants' turnover issues earlier in the season fell largely upon Eli Manning, who tossed 15 picks in the first six games. Manning has thrown just three interceptions since, though his yardage totals have declined with the tighter ball security.

Eli Manning vs. the Chargers secondary

The Chargers own the No. 28 pass defense in the league, allowing nearly 270 yards per game through the air. But in their past three games, they've cut it to 237.

The Giants' aerial attack has certainly taken a step back this season, though this is the kind of matchup you would expect Manning and Co. to exploit.

Justin Tuck's resurgence

Tuck earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 13 after sacking Robert Griffin III four times in Sunday's victory. The veteran pass-rusher has now upped his season total to 6.5, five of which have come in the past two games.

The Giants have rediscovered their pass rush since their bye week, totaling 13 sacks in the past four games. Aside from Tuck, Cullen Jenkins has had three, Jason Pierre-Paul has two and Mathias Kiwanuka has 1.5. Rattling Rivers is not easy considering how quick of a release he has, but certainly it would go a long way to put pressure on the Bolts' quarterback and perhaps batting down a few passes here and then would work.