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New York Giants vs. St. Louis Rams: Breaking Down St. Louis' Game Plan

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2014

Dec 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher watches his team during warmups before the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams (6-8) will host the New York Giants (5-9) in an NFC battle between two struggling teams searching for moral victories. This article will break down St. Louis' keys to victory. 

The Rams are coming off a brutal 12-6 loss against the Arizona Cardinals. The game did not feature a single touchdown by either side, so while the St. Louis offense was totally dominated, the defense is still playing at an extremely high level and has not allowed a touchdown in three games. 

The Giants snapped a seven-game losing streak and now have back-to-back wins thanks to the impressive play of rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is standing out as an obvious Rookie of the Year Award candidate. Thanks to his production, the Giants are starting to find their groove. 

This game looked a lot easier for St. Louis three weeks ago, but now it appears the defense will need another lights-out performance in order to contain Beckham and the Giants. 

If the Rams meet these simple goals, a victory should be within reach:

Don't Let Beckham Get Downfield

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14:  Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after an attempted 30 yard touchdown that was nullified due to a penalty in the fourth quarter during their game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Rams are a powerful defensive team, but they have not been excellent when it comes to defending the pass. 

For the most part, St. Louis has allowed offenses to complete easy passes. In fact, quarterbacks have completed 67.5 percent of their passes against the Rams (third-highest in the NFL). Apparently, as long as it's for a short gain, they'll let it slide. 

What the Rams don't allow, however, is deep passes down the field. The Rams have given up just six passes of 40 or more yards this year (tied for fourth-fewest in the league), and that seems to be the number they really care about. 

When it comes to Beckham, he can hurt teams by moving the chains with short-yardage receptions, but he also has a reception of about 30 or more yards in each of his last seven games. 

St. Louis is going to give Beckham the short passes. The Rams have been doing that all year, and it hasn't really hurt them. 

However, the Rams cannot allow Beckham to get downfield for his weekly back-breaking play. The safeties have to keep tabs on him and prevent that from happening. 

If Beckham can get downfield unchallenged, the Rams will have to put more defensive backs on him. If that happens, it will completely open things up for the Giants offense. 

Just cover him, smack him around and remind him that he's a rookie. This isn't the Jacksonville or Washington defense he's facing this week, so the Rams best remind him of that early and often. 

Contain the Run 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 19:  Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants runs the ball against Chris Long #91 of the St. Louis Rams at MetLife Stadium on September 19, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Shutting down Beckham will become much easier if the Rams can contain New York's run game. 

The Giants are not great at running the ball. Their rushing attack ranks 22nd in the league with a 99.9 yards-per-game average, and it'll be hard for them to find yards against the stingy St. Louis defense. 

Having said that, if New York can somehow spark the run game, it will be a bad situation for the Rams. 

The Giants have had a 100-yard rusher in just two games this season, and they won both times. If they can move the ball on the ground, the Rams will have to counter by stacking the box. If that happens, it will limit the defense's ability to focus on Beckham, and he'll come up with some big plays as a result. 

Not to mention, stopping the run will turn New York into a one-dimensional passing team. As a result, St. Louis will be able to do what it does best—hunt the quarterback. 

That brings up the next point... 

Light Up Eli Manning

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Beckham can play his best game of the season, but it won't matter if the Rams are able to rattle Eli Manning and force mistakes. Manning has to be on in order for the Giants to thrive. 

This season, the Giants are 0-8 when Manning is sacked two or more times. That's a very disturbing stat for New York, especially since it's about to face a team that had 13 combined sacks against Washington and Oakland, as well as eight sacks against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers

The heavy pass rush will also force mistakes by Manning, and that's another thing the Giants have struggled to overcome this year. The team is 2-5 in games where Manning throws just one pick. 

Manning is a risk taker. If St. Louis brings the blitz and starts piling up the sacks, Manning will feel the desperation and start making questionable throws. His newfound confidence in his favorite rookie receiver will only increase his willingness to make bad throws in the face of pressure. 

If St. Louis can make it a very bad day for Manning, there's no reason why the Rams shouldn't escape with a convincing victory. 

Quick Hits

  • Tavon Austin had just three touches on offense last week against Arizona. There's no excuse for that. Brian Schottenheimer has to find a way to get Austin at least 10 touches in this game. 
  • Why not give the young offensive linemen, such as Barrett Jones and Tim Barnes, a shot to prove themselves? There's no way they're capable of worse than what we've seen from Scott Wells and Davin Joseph in recent weeks. 
  • Kenny Britt is just 93 yards away from becoming the first Rams receiver to hit 700 yards since Torry Holt in 2008. For the sake of pride, please get him the ball. 
  • Can the Rams please stop passing the ball when they're one yard from the end zone? It's like they forgot there's a power back named Zac Stacy still on the roster. 
  • Lance Kendricks had 11 receptions in the first three games but has just 13 in the last 11. Can we see more of him? 
  • The Giants have the third-worst run defense in the NFL (135.1 yards per game). Take the ball out of Shaun Hill's hands and let Tre Mason carry the Rams to victory. 
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