New York Giants (3-3) at Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
SERIES HISTORY: 41st regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 25-15. The Giants won the last six meetings, their last loss to the Rams coming in 2001 on a 15-14 decision in a game played in St. Louis. The two teams have met twice in the post season; that series is tied 1-1.
KEYS TO THE GAME: With the Rams No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, quarterback Jared Goff, still not starting, former undrafted QB Case Keenum is taking advantage of his opportunity. Last week, Keenum completed 27 of 32 passes (84.4 percent) for 321 yards and three TDs for 126.7 rating. He managed 1oo-plus ratings in two of last three games. On the flip side of Rams surprises, RB Todd Gurley has been a disappointment after a great rookie season. Still, he has three TDs in the last four games.
The Rams have played well enough to win their last two games, but the scoreboard obviously tells a different story. Their inability to play consistently on both sides of the ball at the same time - and careless penalties - doomed them. To beat the Giants and return home with their heads above water, the Rams must create an offensive and defensive balance in which both units can rely on each other. That means the offense creating a run game that can help run clock to protect leads, and a defense that can consistently get the Giants off the field on third downs, especially late in games.
Last week, the Giants got lucky in that the Ravens defense didn't really deploy a lot of two-high safety sets to stop the passing game.
This week, that will probably change. With the Giants rushing game, currently ranked 30th in the NFL with its 70.6 yards per game average, struggling, don't expect them to have a breakout day against the Rams despite allowing 115.7 yards per game on the ground.
That Rams defensive front, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, is no pushover when it comes to runs between the tackles, plus the Giants have yet to show that they have the horses to exploit the edges against a defense.
Assuming the Giants running game doesn't function yet again, don't be surprised if they face more two-high safety sets. If they do, they will need to exploit the middle of the field with slants and crossing routes.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants Offensive Line vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald. The Rams' talented 3-technique defensive lineman, Donald quietly developed into one of the best interior defenders in the league. He was not happy after the Rams didn't register a sack against the Detroit Lions and will be especially motivated to change that vs. Giants OG Justin Pugh who is playing the best football of his career in his fourth season. Look for the Rams to move Donald around to get ideal matchups, with a good number of those against the right guard John Jerry and right tackle Bobby Hart.
--Giants CB Janoris Jenkins vs. Rams WR Kenny Britt. Britt is coming off a huge seven-catch, 136-yard performance last week against the Lions, a game that the Rams lost. With 30 catches for 492 yards, he'll likely match up against Jenkins, who has been exceptional in coverage for the Giants, leading the team in passes defensed (7) and interceptions (2). If the Giants can stop the run, they stand a good chance of minimizing the damage done by the Rams passing game.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Rams WR Kenny Britt. He is enjoying a breakout year and leads the team in receiving yards (492) and receptions (30). Britt is averaging 82 yards per game and 16.4 yards per reception, which is the 13th-best average through six games and is developing an obvious chemistry with QB Case Keenum.
INJURY REPORT: New York Giants -- Out: S Nat Berhe (concussion), T Marshall Newhouse (calf), S Darian Thompson (foot). Questionable: LS Zak DeOssie (ankle). Los Angeles -- Out: DT Michael Brockers (thigh), CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle). Doubtful: G Jamon Brown (hand), WR Nelson Spruce (calf). Questionable: DE William Hayes (ankle), DE Robert Quinn (shoulder).
FAST FACTS: In the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, the Giants selected WR Odell Beckham Jr. 12th and the Rams took DL Aaron Donald 13th. Since then, each player was selected to two Pro Bowls is known for being disruptive, each in his own way. In his rookie year, the Rams got a little extra physical with Beckham following some of his showboating antics. Things turned ugly when Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree tried to rough up Beckham on the Giants sideline, which created a brawl resulting in the ejection of now former Giants players Damontre Moore and Preston Parker."
PREDICTION: The Rams are getting more than expected from QB Case Keenum and less from second-year RB Todd Gurley. If they can get more from the latter, then Keenum might get even more comfortable. Still, the Rams wish they didn't lose CB Janoris Jenkins in free agency to the Giants. They could use him to cover Odell Beckham Jr. in London Sunday. Instead, he will try to shut down their top WR Kenny Britt. Key may be ability of Rams to get Gurley rolling.
OUR PICK: Rams, 28-17.