The Giants December winning streak increased to two games last week as the team followed the Giants360 blue print and defeated the Washington Redskins on the strength of a strong second half, 24-13. This week brings a tougher challenge, the Rams in St. Louis. Playing some of the best defense in the NFL, and part of the highly competitive NFC west, the 6-8 Rams will give the Giants their greatest test in the final part of their 2014 schedule. the Rams would very much like to finish at 0.500, and will be highly motivated to win the game.
This is another game the Giants can win, and although they are an underdog by almost a touchdown, here’s how they can do it:
- Protect the Football. The Rams have had a positive turnover margin in their recent victories, including a whopping +7 in their back to back shut outs of the Redskins and Raiders. When St. Louis upset the Broncos, they were +2 in turnover margin. The Giants cannot afford to give the Rams a short field and remain in the game.
- Play Smart and Alert Special Teams. The Rams utilize special teams trickery often and turn game momentum with it. In their week 7 upset of Seattle, the team faked two punts and converted, sustaining drives – one leading to a touchdown, and one allowing them to run out the clock. The Giants special teams have improved of late, but are not on par with the Rams, who are in the top half of the league in nearly every category. If the Giants fall asleep on fourth down, they will wake up with a loss tomorrow morning.
- Stop the Run. The Rams want to run the ball, control the clock and play defense. Rookie Tre Mason has ascended to the top of the running back committee and leads St. Louis in rushing with 661 yards in 155 carries. Shutting down the Rams running game will force journeyman Shaun Hill to have to pass, and he’s been a career backup for a reason.
- Protect Eli Manning. A big reason for the Rams defensive resurgence is their pass rush which has 30 sacks in the second half of the season after registering only 7 during the first part of the year. Lead by Robert Quinn (10.5) and rookie Aaron Donald (8.0), this Rams defensive front will give the Giants much maligned offensive line their a huge test. If they pass, the Manning can move on to key 5 and…
- Throw it to Beckham. Odell Beckham nearly beat the Washington Redskins single handed with his 12-143-3 stat line. He remains the Giants most potent and intimidating offensive weapon and the player that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. He catches the ball when he’s covered and runs for touchdowns if he’s left with a sliver of daylight. And today, he’s playing on the Greatest Show on Turf field. If he is able to get into the open field and turn on his after burners – WHOOSH.
Prediction: The Giants play hard, and score more than the Rams last three opponents have put up combined, which is 12 points, but ultimately fall to a superior opponent on their home field. The Rams defense has too much for the undermanned Giants offense that will struggle to run the ball with Rashad Jennings already ruled out. Watching Beckham push for Rookie of the Year makes these final few “meaningless” game a lot of fun to watch.