Perhaps a cross-ocean excursion may not be such a bad thing for the New York Football Giants (3-3). Since the Los Angles Rams (3-3) are the home team, Big Blue would have otherwise had to travel six hours to California anyway. This way, the G-Men need an additional hour of travel time, and they get to play on a neutral site: Twickenham Stadium in south west London.
As for the game itself, the Giants should be buoyed by their combative (between the lines) 27-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that broke a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Rams lost to the resurgent Detroit Lions 31-28 at Ford Field on Sunday. The Rams – Lions clash resembled a Canadian Football League game with the quarterbacks combining for seven touchdown passes. It was the second week in a row that Los Angeles has given up 30 points or more to their opponent.
Season Record (3-3)
Hopes were high in Los Angeles when the Rams reeled off three wins in a row after a disappointing 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on opening day. But the team has lost two games in a row and given up 30 or more points in the process. Coming into the season, it was thought that LA would ride a tough defense and a strong ground attack to make headway in the usually tough NFC West division. Their Week 2 win over the Seattle Seahawks was looked upon as a possible changing of the guard out west, but that certainly has not been the case. Not yet, at least.
Rams on Offense
So far, the decision to keep first overall pick Jared Goff on the bench, in favor of Case Keenum, still is up for interpretation. Keenan had a stellar game against the Detroit Lions with four touchdown passes and one on the ground. But he also threw an ill-timed interception that wiped out any comeback possibility. Rutgers-product Kenny Britt leads the receiving corps with 30 receptions and two touchdowns, while Brian Quick flies underneath the radar with three touchdowns on just 16 catches. Running back Todd Gurley was supposed to be the foundation of this offense, but he averages a mere 57.7 yards rushing per game.
Rams on Defense
The last we saw the Rams in St. Louis, linebacker Alec Ogletree took a cheap shot at Odell Beckham out of bounds. Ogletree’s actions sparked an all-out brawl that caused three player ejections. He currently leads this team with 50 tackles, and hopefully he keeps it between the lines this time around. All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald is a force in the middle of the front four and has 20 tackles and three sacks despite constant double-teams. Premier edge rusher Robert Quinn has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. Head coach Jeff Fisher is thought to be a defensive mind, who likes to line up and go mano y mano. But does he have the personnel to do that with this Rams team?
Players to Watch: RB Todd Gurley and DE Robert Quinn
Todd Gurley has been a fantasy team nightmare this season. The highly touted running back does not have a single 100 yard rushing game this season and averages a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. But Gurley is coming off his productive day of the season, when he averaged 4.1 yards per carry in the loss to Detroit. The Giants have been better at stopping the rush this season, giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Opponents average 3.5 yards per carry against the G-Men. Stopping Gurley makes the Rams one dimensional, and that will require Case Keenum to carry the offensive load.
Defensively, Robert Quinn used to be one of the premiere edge rushers in the game, but injuries over the past two season have limited him. Quinn was supposed to suit up against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but ended up inactive with a nagging shoulder injury. Chances are that he will play this week, and line up against Ereck Flowers. It should be an interesting match-up, if Quinn is healthy, to see if Flowers can handle this task.
Talk of a Jeff Fisher contract extension has died down, as the Rams continue to go backwards. Fisher is one of the most over-rated coaches in the NFL, and he has the equally disliked Gregg Williams as his defensive coordinator. If Sunday’s kneel down against Detroit is any indication, the Rams will try to bully the Giants in London. Expect particular focus to be placed on Odell Beckham and Ereck Flowers. Since Fisher cannot get it done by molding his players, he may resort to the extra-curricular garbage to win the game. If Ben McAdoo can keep the troops focused on what is going on between the lines, then the Giants will be taking a happy plane ride home from the United Kingdom.