The Giants’ and the Rams’ seasons certainly have taken different routes this season.
After a bye week, the Giants (1-6) will look to re-route their course after they have been derailed from a championship run due to a series of circumstances, while the Rams (5-2) will look to continue their surprising surge in the second half of the season.
Their also will be some nostalgia in the air as Rams’ coach Sean McVay is the grandson of former Giants’ head coach John McVay, who had two turbulent years highlighted by the legendary fumble game against the Eagles in 1978 that involved quarterback Joe Pisarcik and former Eagles cornerback and Jets’ head coach Herman Edwards.
Here are five possible storylines in Sunday’s matchup:
RUNNING GAME: The Giants will need to slow the Rams’ Todd Gurley, who is the league fifth leading rusher with 672 yards with five touchdowns. New York has allowed 120 yards per game, while they have rushed for 83 per contest.
On the flip side, the Giants will look to revive their running game behind Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman. After an impressive showing against Denver, the duo was shut down by Seattle.
COACHES: McVay and the Giants Ben McAdoo are two of the youngest head coaches. McVay became the youngest hire when he was named at 30, and McAdoo at 40 is the fourth youngest in the league.
However, McVay’s stock is rising with his team’s already surpassing last year’s mark (4-12), while McAdoo’s stock is sinking due to their start and discipline problems.
INJURIES: Despite their bye week, the Giants will be missing six starters. Tackle/guard Justin Pugh (back), the team’s most consistent lineman who made the recent move to tackle, will leave a big void and joins center Weston Richburg (concussion) on the offensive side. Saturday morning, Richberg was declared out for the remainder of the season, and Brent Jones stays as the permanent starter.
Defensively, the Giants also will feel the pinch with the losses of defensive ends Olivier Vernon (ankle) and DE Kerry Wynn (knee) and linebackers LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), LB B.J. Goodson (ankle).
Rams’ cornerback Donte Deayon is questionable (ankle).
RECEIVERS: The Giants likely will have Sterling Shepard back in the lineup, and he will upgrade the team’s depleted corps as well as form a strong duo with top draft choice tight end Evan Engram, who is emerging as one of the top receivers in the league. Engram has 30 receptions for 342 yards with three touchdowns, leading all rookie and tight end in the categories.
The Rams have added Sammy Watkins and Gerald Everett to bolster their air attack.
QUARTERBACKS: The Rams’ Jared Goff quietly has developed into a solid single caller and has played an integral role in the club averaging a little more than 30 points per game. He had thrown for more than 1,700 yards with nine touchdowns and our interceptions.
The Giants’ Eli Manning has had his best season inside the red zone, as he has connected on seven of his 10 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line this season. Manning has thrown for 1,600 yards in seven games and his performance has been overlooked due to the team’s struggles.
OUTLOOK: The Giants will have a tall order facing a Rams’ squad that is coming off a 33-0 pasting of Arizona last week, and are evolving into one of the league’s elite, staying on the heels of Seattle in the NFC West.
Their defense revamped itself and went from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under new coordinator Wade Phillips, and they have allowed 19.7 points per game.
The Giants need to maintain sole decent-size drives in order not to have their opponent nearly double the amount of play differentiation against Seattle. They need to re-establish their running game, and it may it be easy with Justin Pugh out.
Defensively, the Giants will need a next-man-up approach with four starters missing. The G-Men need to snap their 0-3 snide at home, and they have the potential to pick up a huge win here.