The Los Angeles Rams have an opportunity on Sunday to do what many thought was unthinkable before the season. With a win against the New York Giants, the Rams can not only clinch a winning record, but also have the chance to potentially lock up a playoff spot.
Los Angeles can clinch a playoff spot with either a Seattle Seahawks loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers or a tie between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. In both cases the Rams also need to win their game against the Giants. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Rams are 5.5 point favorites on the road in New York. Sean McVay’s team will be seen as the better side, but the Giants have been feisty as of late and won’t go down without a fight.
Rams Offense vs. Giants Defense
With Wink Martindale as the defensive coordinator, you’re going to face a lot of blitz. It should be no surprise then that the Giants are the heaviest blitzing team in the NFL. The issue here is that at times this season, Stafford has struggled against the blitz. He had five touchdowns to three interceptions with a quarterback rating of 80.2 which ranks 21st.
Stafford has been better since the bye week against the blitz with a passer rating of 104.3 which ranks as the third best. However, it’s still something to monitor and very few defenses blitz like Martindale’s in New York. The question here will be whether or not Stafford and the Rams offense will e able to take advantage.
Matchup to Watch: Rams Interior Offensive Line vs. Dexter Lawrence
While the Giants have struggled, one of their bright spots remains Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. His 60 pressures rank fourth among defensive linemen this season. The interior of the Rams offensive line, especially Kevin Dotson and Coleman Shelton, will have their hands full.
Rams Defense vs. Giants Offense
Giants head coach Brian Daboll announced earlier this week that he would be starting veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor over undrafted rookie sensation Tommy DeVito. While DeVito was 3-1 as the team’s starter, Taylor likely gives the Giants the best chance to win down the stretch.
That’s good and bad news for the Rams defense. On one hand, Taylor is more predictable and there is more film on him and what his tendencies are. At the same time, Taylor is a veteran quarterback and is less likely to make the mistakes that DeVito might have. Either way, the Rams should win this game, but the Rams certainly would have preferred DeVito over Taylor.
Matchup to Watch: Quentin Lake vs. Darren Waller/Wan’Dale Robinson
The Rams have struggled to guard tight ends for most of the season and Darren Waller remains a big receiving threat in the Giants offense. It would not be surprising to see Daboll try and get favorable matchups for Waller down the seam. Robinson is another explosive player in the Giants offense who has moments and primarily plays in the slot. The responsibility here will primarily fall on Quentin Lake who has been good since returning from injury.
Throughout this season, the Rams have done a good job for the most part of beating teams that they should. Of course there are exceptions in games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. With that said, those were still difficult games on the road against teams who currently have a winning record.
For most of the season, the Giants have been a bad team with their most impressive win coming against the Green Bay Packers. That game was also at MetLife. The Rams have a tendency of allowing teams to stick around or make a late comeback. It wouldn’t be surprising if that were to happen on Sunday. At the end of the day, however, the Rams should absolutely improve to 9-7 and be in control of their playoff destiny heading into Week 18.
Score Prediction: Rams 31, Giants 16