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3 keys to Giants-Rams Week 16 matchup


PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 14: Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on December 14, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

For the most part this season, the Giants have beaten who they were supposed to beat. They're 4-1 against teams with an equal or worse record than their current 5-9.

Unfortunately, they're 1-8 against teams with a better record through Week 15.

That's not to say the Giants can't take down 6-8 Rams in St. Louis on Sunday -- after all, a Giants win would put the Rams into the "equal or worse record" category. The matchup is, however, a tough test that the Giants may need to pass in order to increase the chances of Tom Coughlin returning for a 12th season at the helm in 2015.

Here's a look at how the Giants and Rams match up entering a pivotal contest for both teams who already are forced to make preliminary plans for next season.

Breaking down the wall

The St. Louis defense has been extraordinary over its last three games, with two shutouts and no touchdowns allowed in that span. The opposing quarterbacks the Rams have faced aren't on Eli Manning's level, however, so that shouldn't discourage the Giants' offense too much. After all, opposing cornerbacks have done little to stop record-setting rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. thus far.

Don't fear the offense

The Giants haven't been juggernauts through the air on offense this year, but at least they've had moderate success. The Rams? Not so much. They're on their third starting quarterback -- they lost Sam Bradford in the preseason and swapped out young Austin Davis for veteran backup Shaun Hill. The Rams rank 26th in passing yards with no true alpha receiver in the mix. That should give the Giants' depleted secondary a chance to shine.

Watch out for Tre

Even with injuries to key defensive backs such as Prince Amukamara, the Giants' pass defense isn't too bad. Its ability to stop the run is another matter. Big Blue is 30th out of 32 teams in stuffing the run. The Rams backfield is now led by rookie Tre Mason, who averages 4.3 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns in a game last month against the Raiders. If there's one Rams player on offense the Giants must key in on, it's Mason.


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