This is a very important game for the Rams not only because it will be their head coach Steve Spagnuolo's return to New York, but also because a 0-2 start makes the road to the playoffs even more rigorous.
The Rams will have their hands full playing against the Giants this week. Both teams are a bit banged up, but it seems safe to say that the Rams suffered bigger losses in Week 1. The New York Giants are playoff contenders every year, and they should be favored over St. Louis.
Five things really popped out to me in this game as serious advantages or disadvantages. Factors such as injuries aren't listed because they will plague both teams. With that said, here are some key factors to keep an eye out for on Monday Night Football.
Without Steven Jackson, Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood will be called upon to carry the load against New York. While both Williams and Norwood showed good signs last week, they will be running against a much tougher defense this week.
Williams should have a lot of motivation to perform well in this game. He has officially been written off in the NFL as a number one running back. Tampa Bay was done giving him chances a season ago about halfway through the season. This offseason, Tampa didn't really attempt to bring him back, and he had no offers to be a primary back.
Against the Giants, he will have to show his talents that made him a top 10 draft selection. Rushing for 90 yards on the Eagles is one thing, but rushing for 90 yards against New York would really send a message that Williams can still play.
There has been little talk about Jerious Norwood this week, but he will have to step his game up as well. He was only given the ball three times against Philadelphia, but he may have his opportunities to get involved in the passing game this week. Norwood has been a game changer in the past, and he will need to be if the Rams want to win the game.
The Rams defense has shown massive improvement in the past seasons, and what's so exciting to watch is how they get after the quarterback. Steve Spagnuolo sends rushers from everywhere. Quintin Mikell had a critical strip-sack coming in from the secondary last week. Not only was Mikell used to blitz, but the nickle cornerbacks were getting after Michael Vick.
Eli Manning makes mistakes plain and simple. Add a little pressure and all of the sudden Manning gets happy feet and throws the ball to covered receivers. Expect the defensive line of the Rams to feast on Manning on Monday. If the Redskins could get four sacks on the Giants, the Rams could very well double that number.
The most critical point in the St. Louis pass rush will be how the Giants' line responds. We all expect Spagnuolo to know secrets about the way the Giants operate, but they should know a little something about him too. Surely, New York's offensive line must see blitzes similar to the Rams' everyday in practice. But, it's one thing to know it's coming, and another to actually stop it.
It seemed pretty clear that last week Lance Kendricks had a bit of the first game jitters. He dropped a couple of easy passes, but he will have a chance to redeem himself this week.
This Giants linebacking core made Fred Davis look like Antonio Gates a week ago. Don't get me wrong, Davis can play some football, but he never had 100 yards receiving in a game until last week and only had caught at least five passes four times. What I'm trying to say is, if Fred Davis can do it, Lance Kendricks can do it.
Not only is the opportunity there for him, but he has to have a big game. Sam Bradford is looking for any of his targets to become reliable receivers right now. Kendricks gained Bradford's trust in the preseason, and now he will have to earn it back. If Lance is a non-factor, I don't see how the Rams can win.
How much does Al Harris even have left in his tank? St. Louis better hope a good amount because he will likely be starting opposite Bradley Fletcher at the age of 36.
Since it appears that Hakeem Nicks will be able to go on Monday, Al Harris will either be covering him or the speedy Mario Manningham. Both are very tough covers for a man who has suffered season ending injuries in the past two seasons.
Al Harris was a very good cornerback when he was healthy, however. If he is finally healthy, maybe he can still play at a high level. We've seen cornerbacks be able to play at high levels well into their 30s in the past.
While they may be a couple years younger, Charles Woodson (32 years old) and Champ Bailey (33 years old) are still playing at an All-Pro level. Just to throw another name out there, Ty Law was able to play until he was 36. So there's a chance that father time hasn't yet caught up to Al Harris.
The New York Giants may have the most ferocious pass rush in the entire NFL. For St. Louis, this could prove to be a major issue for a Rams offensive line that struggled in pass blocking against Philadelphia.
Even without Justin Tuck, who could still possibly play against the Rams, the Giants were able to get after Rex Grossman. Much like the Rams defense, even though they only totaled four sacks, Grossman was forced to get rid of the ball in a hurry.
To me, the most fearsome man on New York's defensive line is Jason Pierre-Paul. This kid looked like the real deal against the Washington Redskins. Pierre-Paul was virtually unblockable last week. The Rams desperately need Jason Smith to be as close to 100 percent as possible, otherwise Pierre-Paul could be in St. Louis' backfield all game.
It may sound like I'm repeating myself, but it's the same thing for both the Rams' and the Giants' pass rushes. Steve Spagnuolo and Tom Coughlin know secrets about each other. Maybe Spagnuolo has the Giants pass rush figured out better than anybody else in the league and turns it into a complete non-factor.
There's a good chance that I could end up eating my words here, but I think the Giants will prevail. I'll be rooting my heart out for the St. Louis Rams to win, but they have a lot going against them here.
This will be a very close game, but the big thing that New York has going for them is that Hakeem Nicks should be good to go. It's a clear advantage for the Giants to have their top two receivers going against a banged up Rams secondary rather than the Rams receiver by committee going against a banged up Giants secondary.
Everything in this game has the makings of another quarterback duel like the one we saw last Monday night where Tom Brady and Chad Henne went at it. Both quarterbacks are good enough to take advantages of the weak secondaries and I belive they will both throw for over 300 yards.
Expect this game to be tight until the finish primarily because of mistakes by Eli Manning.
Final Score: 34-27 Giants