Rams return home to face the winless Giants
The Los Angeles Rams will return to SoFi Stadium after a two-game East Coast road swing to face the struggling New York Giants on Sunday. These two teams last met back on Nov. 5, 2017, at MetLife Stadium, where the Rams blew out the Giants 51-17.
The Rams (2-1) are coming off a tough loss against the Bills. It was a tale of two halves, as they fell behind 28-3 in the first half but got off the mat by scoring 29 straight points to take a 32-28 late in the fourth quarter. However, thanks in part to a controversial pass interference penalty call on Darious Williams, the Rams ended up losing a 35-32 heartbreaker. Jared Goff completed 23-of-32 passes for 321 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception; Cooper Kupp was his biggest beneficiary, hauling in nine receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Donald caused havoc all day long with six tackles and two sacks but will need more help from the rest of the defensive front as the season goes along.
New York, meanwhile, did not have any answers for San Francisco in a disappointing 36-9 home loss against the 49ers. The Giants were dominated across the board as San Francisco outgained them 420-231 and they were -3 in the turnover battle. Daniel Jones completed 17-of-32 passes for 179 yards, one interception, and one fumble. The defense could not get off the field, with San Francisco going for 8-for-12 on third down. The Giants also allowed backup quarterback Nick Mullens to complete 25-of-36 passes for 343 yards and one touchdown pass. One positive for the defense was their ability to stop the run, as San Francisco was limited to 93 rushing yards on 2.7 yards per carry.
New York at Los Angeles
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Rams -13
Three Things to Watch
1. Rams offense
Getting off to a fast start will be important for Goff and the offense this week. Goff has completed 69 percent of his passes through three weeks with five touchdown passes, two interceptions, and a 108.5 passer rating. Kupp and Robert Woods are a quality 1-2 punch at wide receiver that will give the Giants secondary problems all afternoon long. The offensive line has been an underrated reason for the success of the running game which has created a bit more balance for head coach Sean McVay. Taking care of business on third down is going to be important this week, as it will allow the offensive line to wear down the Giants defense in the second half. That wasn't a problem last week for the 49ers, which went through the entire game on Sunday against New York without having to punt the football away. That was the first time that San Francisco didn’t punt in a game since Dec. 18, 1993. This offense is far stronger than the Niners' and has the potential go through this game without punting the football away too.
2. Giants' offensive struggles
This is going another great test for Jones since the Los Angeles defensive front led by Donald is going to be a challenge for the offensive line to deal with. Jones has had an up-and-down start to the 2020 season; he has had some impressive throws at times but needs to be more consistent across the board. Saquon Barkley's absence has been a problem and does not come with an easy solution as far as helping take pressure off of Jones. Devonta Freeman is going to have to move the chains by grinding away yards on the ground in order for New York to have a legitimate chance to keep the game close. The turnover margin has also crushed the offense in the first three weeks, as the Giants have committed seven turnovers for an average of 2.3 per game. That number has come down quickly in order for them to stay in the NFC East title race, which they are currently just a game out of heading into Week 4.
3. Which Rams defense is going to show up this week?
This week will provide a great opportunity to get right on the defensive side of the football, building upon a good second half at Buffalo. Donald should have his way with a suspect Giants offensive line, so expect defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to turn him loose early and often. Jalen Ramsey is going to have to bring the rest of the secondary back mentally in short order since they can’t let one bad performance against Josh Allen snowball into another one this week against Jones. You can expect to see New York attack the middle of the field early and often to Evan Engram because the middle of the Rams defense has been proven to be vulnerable against passes over the middle. If the Giants end up exploiting the middle with ease this week, you can expect the panic level to increase for the Rams and their fanbase, even if they win.
Los Angeles should be able to come out and strike quickly on offense and sprint out to a two-score lead in the first half. Goff will carve out another 300-yard passing game, and the Rams should be able to run for at least 150 yards on the ground. New York will put up a respectable effort, but the Giants simply don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Los Angeles offense for four quarters. The Rams will improve to 3-1 and play a pretty complete game in the process, which should give them a bit of confidence moving forward this season.
Prediction: Rams 34, Giants 16
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.