The New York Giants have more games ahead of them than behind in the 2017 campaign. That is good news for a team looking to find its footing after a 1-6 start. The Giants spent this past week scouting themselves over the bye, and so did the 5-2 Los Angeles Rams, who will make the cross-country journey to MetLife Stadium for a Week 9 meeting.
Here are three keys for the Giants to come away victorious on Sunday:
STOP THE RUN
There could be some "subtle changes" coming to the Giants' scheme and personnel usage, but the top priority will remain constant: stop the run. Rams running back Todd Gurley II is fifth in the NFL with 89.6 yards rushing per game. Wide receiver Tavon Austin is also a factor on the ground, ranking second on the team with 25 carries for 135 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown.
Los Angeles runs the ball 47.5 percent of the time, the sixth-highest rate in the league, and is one of seven teams averaging 30 or more attempts per game. That balance has led the Rams to boast the NFC's top-scoring offense heading into Week 9.
PRODUCTION FROM WR CORPS
Since the Giants lost four wide receivers -- three for the season -- in Week 5, tight end Evan Engram has stepped up to become one of the most productive pass catchers of the 2017 NFL Draft Class. However, the Giants' wide receiver corps accounted for just seven catches in the two games before the bye, the franchise's lowest two-game total by receivers since 1996.
Sterling Shepard, the one injured receiver whose season did not end against the Chargers, could return on Sunday to provide a lift for Eli Manning and company. But if he cannot go, Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan will have to find a way to produce against a Rams defense that plays a lot of man coverage. Los Angeles has allowed just eight passing touchdowns this season, one fewer than its number of interceptions.
SOUND UP FRONT
One of the smartest moves the youngest head coach in NFL history made was hiring a man with nearly a half-century worth of coaching experience to run his defense. That's what Sean McVay did with Wade Phillips, who transitioned the Rams from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme. It looks like they're getting the hang of it, too. In their three outings before the bye, the Rams gave up just 11 points per game, including a shutout (33-0) of the Cardinals their last time out.
The Rams' disruptive front is led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who has been the Odell Beckham Jr. of defense since he was drafted one spot behind the Giants wide receiver in 2014. Donald, who already has three Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections under his belt, leads all defensive tackles with 31 sacks since he's been in the league.