(5-9) vs Rams (6-8)
The Rams were coming
off two very impressive wins, Oakland 52-0 and Washington 24-0, when they ran
into the Arizona Cardinals last week. This time both teams had trouble scoring
points and the offense was all field goals and a 12-6 loss for the Rams.
Giants continued their winning streak with a 24-13 victory over the Washington
Redskins. They trailed at halftime, but came back for a win.
Giants - Redskins
It's been 10 long years since the Rams
went to the playoffs. In 2004, with a 9-7 record, they won the Wild Card Playoffs
and lost the Divisional Playoffs. It's also been a long time since they won more
than seven games in a single season. That was 2006 (8-8), and if they had beaten
the Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the 2010 season they would have won
the division with an 8-8 record. Their loss had both teams at 7-9 and the Seahawks
won that tie with a better division record. People complained about a 'lousy'
NFC West team getting into the playoffs while many others with much better win-loss
records were shut out.
This is similar to the current NFC South division where
the New Orleans Saints currently have the lead with a 6-8 record with two games
left to play. Somewhat interesting is that the Giants kicker Josh Brown was with
the Rams in that crucial 2010 final game and he provided the Rams with the only
points they scored, two field goals in a 16-6 loss.
The Rams have gone through
a few coaching and interim coaching changes since 2004, Mike Martz, Joe Vitt,
Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett, Steve Spagnuolo, and now Jeff Fisher. Martz is the
only coach to have an overall winning record. Fisher has been the head coach since
2012 and has taken a 2-14 team to 7-9 in the last two seasons. He's trying to
build on that, but quarterback issues haven't helped.
Louis Rams Offense
Quarterback Sam Bradford tore his ACL for the second straight year, this time
in preseason. Backup Shaun Hill suffered a thigh injury in their season opening
loss. Austin Davis, an undrafted free agent in 2012, started the next eight games.
He played well early on, but it didn't last. Hill became the starter once again
and gave them a 22-7 win against Denver. The Rams lost by 3 points in San Diego
after a game-ending interception on a second-and-goal from their 4-yard line,
but Hill won two more games before facing the Cardinals last week. Arizona's defensive
blitzing schemes confused Hill's offensive line. He was sacked just twice, but
the pressure kept Hill edgy in the pocket.
Running the ball against Arizona's
tough run defense didn't work, but running back Tre Mason will have more opportunity
against the Giants. Mason has 661 rushing yards, which is the league’s second-highest
total by a rookie. Wide receiver Kenny Britt leads the team with 607 yards, averaging
17.3 a catch, and tight end Jared Cook has the most receptions, with 44 for 556
total yards. Wide receiver Tavon Austin has 28 receptions, but they have used
him to run the ball 31 times.
Louis Rams Defense
have a pass rush that's given them 35 sacks in the last 9 games. Cardinals quarterback
Drew Stanton was knocked out of the game last week on a play where he was sacked
by defensive tackle Aaron Donald. This unit has allowed no touchdowns at all in
the last three games. The Rams are currently tied for 12th in the league in points
allowed per game, despite points given up by offensive turnovers or by special
Donald now has 8 sacks and he is in play to be the Defensive
Rookie of the Year. Right end Robert Quinn was just one-half sack off the league
lead last year and he leads his team with 10.5 sacks. On the downside, the Rams
have allowed quarterbacks to complete 67.5 percent of their passes (3rd-highest
in the NFL), but only 6 have gone for 40 or more yards (tied for 4th-fewest in
the league). They have a very physical style of play and close fast, and that
can shake an opposing receiver's confidence.
It's no secret that the Giants
do not have a running game and this offense has been fueled by Eli Manning throwing
pass after pass to his amazing rookie, Odell Beckham Jr. Just how hard is it to
game plan against that? The Giants were able to make it work against the Titans
and Redskins and it should also have succeeded against the Jaguars except for
some mistakes that gave the game away. Manning has been averaging 288 passing
yards in the last seven games. Still, being a one trick pony offense goes only
so far in the NFL against a team with a strong defense.
Rashad Jennings is
out for this game so Williams will get the start. Last week Tom Coughlin admitted
that they gave up on the running game because they didn't have enough success
to continue with it. Williams has developed into a better blocker and he will
need to be sharp in that area when Manning is throwing passes. It would also help
if he was more sure handed as a receiver. Last game Williams was only one for
four on receptions. Manning got some dependable help from Kevin Ogletree, Larry
Donnell, Corey Washington and Daniel Fells, who caught every pass he threw to
them last week.
The defense has come up strong the last
few weeks with 22 sacks over the last three games and the Rams have already given
up 41, five more than they did all last year. There's a lesson to be learned from
the Cardinals on how to play up against the Rams offense. They shut down the run
game and talented rookie Tre Mason was held to just 33 yards. That put a lot of
pressure on the Rams offensive line as they struggled to protect their quarterback.
Unfortunately, the Giants have not been good at run defense and that's maybe a
necessary ingredient that's needed to win this game.
They'll also have to watch
out for tight end Jared Cook. The Giants are
not always the best at defending the middle of the field against tight ends, and
Cook is a good outlet for Shaun Hill when pressure is on. This game is a great
opportunity for young guys like Damontre Moore,
Devon Kennard and Johnathan Hankins to continue to show what they can do.
players are all in, and neither team, despite losing records, has given up on
the season. The Rams took a loss last week, but it certainly wasn't because of
their defense. That unit has really stepped it up over the last eight games. The
Rams have an edge, having had extra time to prepare for the Giants, as their last
game was played on a Thursday.
The Giants are on the road against a rested
team with a tough aggressive defense. Eli Manning hasn't done well when the pressure
keeps coming, and without a running game that's likely to happen. In fact the
Giants are 0-8 when Manning is sacked two or more times in a game. Last week after
their loss, Rams tight end Jared Cook complained that the team was out-played
and out-coached. If he was right, just hope that happens again.
The Eagles (9-5) play their game in
Washington against the Redskins (3-11) on Saturday at 4:30pm. The Giants and Rams
play on Sunday at 4:05pm, and the Cowboys (10-4) host the Colts (10-4) at 4:25pm.
The Eagles and Cowboys are favored to win in these games.
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coach Tom Coughlin is 13th on the career victories list with 163 wins.
have allowed only one sack on Eli Manning in the last two games.
Pierre-Paul has a team-high 9.5 sacks, the second-highest total of his career
(16.5 in 2011).
Rams defense, over the
last eight games, rank 1st in sacks (32).
defense, over the last eight games, rank 2nd in average points allowed (15.1).
Rams defense, over the last eight games,
rank 2nd in 3rd-down defense (31.8 percent conversion rate).
coach Jeff Fisher is 14th on the career victories list with 162 wins.
coach Jeff Fisher has faced Tom Coughlin in 18 regular-season games and leads
Dec 28 Eagles at Giants.
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