Giants’ running back Rashad Jennings has officially been ruled out [ankle] for Sunday’s game, which means they’ll turn to Andre Williams to carry the workload in Week 16.
Despite a 131-yard performance in Week 14, Williams has been unimpressive in 2014. Last week, against the Redskins, he ran for only 44 yards on 18 carries; a paltry 2.4 ypc average. And if you were to remove the aforementioned 24-carry, 131-yard performance vs. the Titans, Williams is averaging 2.8 yards per carry on the season.
The Redskins defense limited the Giants’ run game to 49 yards last week. Look for the solid front seven in St. Louis to make it a repeat performance.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. Catches 10+ Passes and Eclipses 1,100 Yards on the Year
With Williams struggling to get the ground game going, the Giants will have to look to throw the ball often in order to sustain drives and move the ball downfield. Since the beginning of November, there’s been no wide receiver in the NFL who’s performed as well as Beckham Jr.
In his first three games as a pro, ODB caught 10 passes for 106 yards; a 35 yard per game average. In the seven games that’ve followed he’s tallied 61 catches for 866 yards; a 123 yard per game average. He’s made some incredible plays, and Eli Manning is not shy about targeting his favorite receiver.
Beckham Jr. has been targeted 15 times in each of his last two games, and he’s caught 11 and 12 passes respectively. He’s 28 yards shy of 1,000. Don’t be surprised if he eclipses 1,100 on Sunday.
Look for Beckham to continue his dominance this weekend. It’s not as if the Rams’ defense isn’t aware of what ODB Jr. is capable of doing. He’s just that good.
3. Double Digit Sacks...Most Coming From the Giants’ Defense
The Rams’ defense, deemed "Sack City" prior to the onset of the 2014 season, came out flat this year, totaling only one sack in the first six weeks of the season. In the nine games that followed they’ve gotten to the opposing QB 35 times.
Consistency in doing so hasn’t necessarily been there though. They had a season high eight sacks against the 49ers in Week 9, but managed only one last week against the Cardinals.
The Giants’ defense, however, has been living in opposing backfields recently, and has sacked the QB 22 times over the past three games. Look for Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s gotten six sacks over the past three weeks, to chasing down Rams’ QB Shaun Hill on Sunday afternoon.
4. Tre Mason Chalks Up 150+ All-Purpose Yards
While the Giants may struggle moving the ball on the ground, the Rams will look to feed rookie RB Tre Mason early and often. The Giants haven’t been able to stop opposing rushers in 2014, and they rank 30th in the NFL in yards per game allowed [135.1]
When Tre Mason gets 18+ carries per game, the Rams are 5-0. In those games, he’s rushed 100 times for 446 yards [4.5 ypc] and three touchdowns. The G-Men are allowing their opponents to rush for 4.9 yards per carry.
Look for Mason to catch a pass or two out of the backfield, and coupled with another 100+ yard rushing performance, should eclipse 150 total yards on the day.
5. The Rams Keep Their Hope of a .500 Season Alive
The St. Louis Rams haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2003. They haven’t finished one 8-8 since 2006. With a current record of 6-8, the Rams have only two games remaining to accomplish something they haven’t in nearly a decade.
It’ll take a win on Sunday against the Giants, and an underdog victory on the road in Seattle in Week 17. But for now, look for the Rams to finish Week 16 just one win shy of a .500 record.
The Rams’ offense will be able to efficiently move the ball on the ground, chewing up time and winning the time of possession battle. The Giants, however, will not, and will find themselves in a lot of 3rd and long situations. I don’t expect a high-scoring game.
Rams 20, Giants 16
[for more TST staff predictions, head on over here]