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10 things to watch for vs. Rams


*Ten storylines to follow as the Giants get set for Sunday:  *


The flight to New Jersey feels like a short one for the Los Angeles Rams compared to their last game, a 33-point shutout of the Arizona Cardinals in London. Improving to 5-2 on the year, the Rams went on their bye the same week as the Giants, who fell to 1-6 before the break. Now the two teams from opposite coasts meet at MetLife Stadium this Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.


The Rams are the only NFC team that Eli Manning has not lost to as a starter, going a perfect 5-0 against the franchise in his career (the Giants have won seven in a row overall in the series). He is also undefeated against four AFC teams: Bills (3-0), Texans (3-0), Dolphins (3-0), and Raiders (3-0). Manning is also 186 yards from becoming the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw for 50,000 (Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, John Elway).


Out: LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), OL Justin Pugh (back), C Weston Richburg (concussion), DE Olivier Vernon (ankle), DE Kerry Wynn (knee)

Questionable: CB Donte Deayon (ankle)

In addition to the injury report, cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. Jenkins was not in attendance when the Giants returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday after the break. Coach Ben McAdoo will review the status of the suspension at the beginning of next week.


Sterling Shepard, the only one of four wide receivers injured in Week 5 whose season did not end there, is expected to make his return on Sunday. The Giants could use him after their wide receivers accounted for just seven catches against the Broncos and Seahawks, the franchise's lowest two-game total by receivers since 1996. In the meantime, first-round draft choice Evan Engram leads all rookie tight ends in receptions (30) and receiving yards (342). He is also tied for first with three touchdowns, two of which came in back-to-back games before the bye.


The Giants defeated the Rams last October in London, the second victory in a six-game winning that propelled Big Blue to the postseason. The Rams, meanwhile, won just one game after that and finished 4-12, leading to coach Jeff Fisher being relieved of his duties. A year later, under Sean McVay, the Rams are the most improved team in the NFL, already surpassing last year's win total with nine game left. On the other hand, the Giants have done the same in the loss column.


A major reason for the L.A. turnaround has been the play of second-year quarterback Jared Goff, who didn't appear in a game until three weeks after the Giants saw the Rams last season. Through eight weeks this year, the Rams are averaging 30.3 points per game, second only to the AFC's Texans (30.7). Along with running back Todd Gurley, Los Angeles also has one of the most balanced offenses, averaging more than 30 carries per game.


The coaching staff didn't need to dig deep in the self-scouting over the bye week to realize third down was an area of concern. The Giants are 29th (32.6 percent) on offense and 22nd (40.8) on defense. The Rams, on the other hand, are first (49.0) and 12th (36.4), respectively.

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Rams on Sunday

8. 4-3 TO 3-4

The Rams look like they're starting get the hang of the transition from 3-4 to 4-3 under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, allowing an average of just 11 points over their last three games. It all starts with the front seven, which includes five first-round draft picks: Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and Mark Barron.


On what could be a wet afternoon in the Meadowlands, special teams could become a major factor in deciding the outcome. The Rams are known for running their share of trick plays, which can put opponents on their heels even when they don't run them. While they have one of the best punter-kicker tandems in Johnny Hekker and Greg Zuerlein, Pharoh Cooper leads the NFL in kick return yards, including a 103-yard touchdown.


Sunday's game features a matchup between two of the youngest head coaches in the league. McVay became the youngest of all time when the Rams hired him at the age of 30. Meanwhile, McAdoo, 40, is the fourth-youngest coach in the league behind McVay (now 31), San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan (37) and Miami's Adam Gase (39). McVay, who was previously the offensive coordinator of the Redskins, is also the grandson of John McVay, who was coached the Giants from 1976-1978 (he was interim in 1976).

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