Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackNo matter what happens the rest of the season, the Giants’ 2014 showing has been a major disappointment. The Giants have won two games in a row, but when they had a chance to make a statement against the good teams on their schedule, the Giants lost seven consecutive games. Eli Manning could have a difficult time here against the nasty St. Louis pass rush.The Rams are developing an identity as a tough team to play against, and quarterback Shaun Hill should be able to lead his offense with greater ease and productivity against the Giants than he did against the Cardinals. Hill is completing 59.4 percent of his passes, but his 6-4 TD-interception ratio demonstrates how difficult it is for a backup quarterback to be productive at this level.
- OffenseThe Giants have developed a future star in rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has caught 71-972-9 in 10 games this season. Beckham has the kind of speed needed to zip through opposing defenses and excellent catching skills. Running back Andre Williams has speed, but he needs to show more consistency. Tight end Larry Donnell has been an up-and-down performer.The Rams can move the ball on the ground with Tre Mason, who has gained 661 yards and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Wide receivers Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin all have game-changing speed, and that trio could figure heavily in head coach Jeff Fisher’s plans from this point forward. Tight end Jared Cook is a solid third-down weapon.
- DefenseThe Giants have struggled on the defensive side throughout the season, and they rank 25th in yards allowed. They simply miss too many tackles and they don’t have a leader who can make impact plays at key moments in the game. Middle linebacker Jameel McClain has been a productive player who leads the team with 101 tackles. DE Jason Pierre-Paul leads the team with 9.5 sacks.The Rams’ defense has found its rhythm after some ordinary games in the first half of the season. They rank 11th overall in yards allowed, and they have plenty of speed that allows them to stay with fast receivers. Robert Quinn has had an excellent second half of the season and leads the team with 10.5 sacks, while OLB Alec Ogletree leads the team with 93 tackles and also has three forced fumbles.
- Special TeamsThe Giants are fairly ordinary on their coverage teams, and their punt-return differential has been a negative throughout the season. However, Beckham has the game-changing speed to break a long return at any time. PK Josh Brown has made 17-of-18 FG attempts this season.The Rams have the ability to turn any game around with their special-teams play. Austin and Bailey both have punt returns for touchdowns, while their coverage teams generally do a good job as well. Greg Zuerlein has been inconsistent, as he has made just 20-of-26 FG attempts.
A tight game should be on the horizon between these two non-playoff teams. The speed of the Rams’ impact players and their defense may give them the advantage. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports