LOCATION: Twickenham Stadium, London, England
BETTING LINE: NYG -3
GIANTS PLAYER TO WATCH
After a noted slow start to the season, Beckham finally had the breakout game Giants’ fans have been waiting for last week, notching 222 yards on 8 receptions and burning through the Ravens’ secondary for two massive touchdowns. With the Rams potentially missing their number one CB in Trumaine Johnson, Beckham could be looking at another big game this week. And with fellow wideouts Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard still yet to find their groove, Beckham may need another big showing to help put this one away. Don’t expect another 200+ yard slog, but the young WR can definitely affect a game, for better or worse.
RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH
While last week’s matchup against Detroit proved to be a relatively quiet affair for the monster DT (though a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a decent amount of pressure against double teams shows that Donald is still a force), the Giants will need to gameplan well to negate the destruction that #99 is capable of. With the Rams likely missing DE Robert Quinn, it may again be all up to Donald to carry the front seven on his shoulders, as successful pressure against Eli Manning and the Giants o-line will be integral if the Rams hope to come away with the win.
GIANTS KEY POSITION GROUP PREVIEW
This group could potentially hold the key to successfully dismantling the Rams offense across the pond this week. And with so much money having been invested in the offseason to bolster the D-line, FA signings Olivier Vernon and ‘Snacks’ Harrison will need to prove their worth.
Run stopping has been a bright spot on the New York defense, and shutting down last year’s breakout rookie RB Todd Gurley is a must. Beyond that though, the unit needs to start turning a league-high QB pressures into actual sacks. With Case Keenum having a remarkable game in terms of completions against Detroit, taking him down will provide much needed relief to a defense that has struggled to stay off the field.
Rashad Jennings returned for the Giants last week after missing the last three games due to injury, but with a paltry 1.7 yards per carry against Baltimore, the coaching staff will be hoping he can make a bigger impact this week against a tough Rams’ front seven.
While Jennings has never really been considered a true weapon on the ground, his absence has been notable in terms of pass protection, with backups Bobby Rainey, Paul Perkins and Orleans Darkwa having all failed to adequately protect Eli at key moments. With Shane Vereen out for the season, and the Giants’ run game having been lackluster at best thus far, Jennings will need to have a good outing to keep the Ram’s defense honest.
The Giants offensive line has been a point of much contention this year. With second year LT Ereck Flowers having a difficult time against both the Packers and Vikings in previous weeks, things seem to have corrected themselves against the Ravens, albeit in the short term.
The Giants interior has been solid to start the year, particularly guards Justin Pugh and John Jerry, who both grade in the top 20 in the league according to Pro-Football Focus. But with their starting RT injured, and facing what may be a destructive defensive front from the Rams, both tackles will have to bring their best to allow Eli Manning the time he needs.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
Both teams will be heading into London this week with something to prove, and while it isn’t necessarily a must-win for either the Giants or Rams, heading into a bye week after a win is a situation most would find agreeable. Los Angeles is no strangers to a long commute, but the time difference between the West Coast and the UK will find them playing the equivalent of a 6 AM game; not an easy task. The Giants will also need time to acclimate, and even though the time difference for the East Coast natives isn’t quite as bad, London games are notoriously sloppy affairs.
The key for the Rams will be to repeat their efforts on offense from their last game, which despite losing, showed off the explosiveness that comes with both QB Case Keenum and WR Kenny Britt firing on all cylinders. The Giants aren’t pushovers in the secondary though, and a bend but not break philosophy thus far has seen success. Todd Gurley still needs to find his feet, and facing a strong front-four from New York, it may be easier said than done. Look for the Rams to utilize both Gurley and WR Tavon Austin in some creative offensive packages; both have seen success both on the ground and in the passing game.
On the other hand, New York will will also hope to replicate their prior success from last week. With Beckham seemingly finding his groove again, the Eli and Odell show will need to be on full display again this week if they hope to head into the bye week happy. Despite ranking 3rd in the league in passing yards, the Giants have had mixed results from its offense, much of the troubles stemming from penalties and an ugly turnover differential. Without a decent run game, it’s becoming increasingly obvious the Giants might be a one trick pony, so there will be pressure on the offensive line and starting RB Rashad Jennings to prove their worth.
It’s going to be a sloppy affair, and a low scoring, tight matchup would be of no surprise, but I’m giving this one to the Giants. Beckham is a generational talent, and the Rams simply don’t have the secondary to handle him; not many do.
RAMS KEY POSITION GROUP PREVIEW
Coming into the season, hopes were not high for what was projected as one of the bottom-ranked receiving corps in the league. But leveraging your future for a franchise QB in the draft comes at a price. Surprisingly, this unit has showed potential, and with Kenny Britt having a career outing against Detroit last week, hauling in 7 receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, defenses will have to take notice.
Tavon Austin has also shown flashes, though he seems to really shine in both the screen game and coming out of the backfield, rather than being a true deep threat. Don’t be fooled by the stats, if Case Keenum can have another efficient outing. These receivers are dangerous.
Todd Gurley, who just last year had over 1,000 yards rushing in his breakout rookie season, has struggled to find his groove in Los Angeles. Averaging only 57 yards per game this year, and 2.9 yards per attempt, Gurley’s monster 2015 seems to have drawn the eye of defensive coordinators around the league.
While the Giants’ front seven have been efficient at stopping the run, Gurley has shown that he can be a dominant force even against some of the toughest units in the league. Look for Gurley to be utilized in the pass game as well. With 15 receptions already, Los Angeles will hope to get the ball to their star back however they can.
A banged up unit that has struggled the past 2 weeks, despite the best efforts of pro-bowl DT Aaron Donald, the Rams defensive line will come into London hoping to be healthy. And more importantly, dominant against a Giants offensive line that has had its own struggles.
With both DT Michael Brokers and DE Robert Quinn questionable for the matchup, backup lineman like Eugene Sims and Dominique Easley are going to have to step up and help bring the pressure. The Giants may not have a run game to speak of, but give Eli Manning too much time in the pocket and he will hurt you.