The Giants will travel to Los Angeles this weekend for the first time in over 25 years to take on the Rams at the new SoFi Stadium.
Joe Judge and the Giants are searching for their first win of the season as they face off against Sean McVay and the 2-1 Rams. Both of Los Angeles' wins have come against the NFC East, as they defeated the Cowboys in Week 1 and the Eagles the following week. The Rams lost, 35-32, to the Buffalo Bills last week on a last-second touchdown pass from Josh Allen.
Here are five players to watch in the Giants-Rams Week 4 matchup:
QB Daniel Jones
After a solid start to the season, Jones struggled against the 49ers in Week 3. The second-year quarterback completed 53 percent of his passes for 179 yards and an interception while also losing a fumble. It marks the third consecutive game in which Jones has registered two turnovers. Jones added five rushes for 49 yards.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones is still having an encouraging season. Jones has earned a 77.1 overall grade from the analytics site, good for the 10th-highest in the NFL. The 23-year-old is averaging 233 passing yards per game, but more impressively is Jones' 92 rushing yards on 12 carries (7.7 yards per carry), including five of which resulted in first downs. Jones also has accumulated five through the first three weeks.
The Rams' defense enters this game ranked ninth in the league with five turnovers, with all five coming over the last two games. Last week, Allen threw an interception and lost a fumble, while Eagles QB Carson Wentz accounted for two of the three turnovers in Week 2.
"The quarterback has the ball in his hands every play," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said earlier this week. "Things aren't going to go perfectly, so you have to be able to handle the adversity of the game and just keep going. That's one of the things we really like about Daniel. He just has that mindset mentality of a competitor. Whether he has success or failure or adversity on a previous play, he's going to keep coming back. He's demonstrated that over the course of the first three weeks."
RB Devonta Freeman
Freeman signed with the Giants last week and had just a few practices before suiting up for the game against the 49ers. The veteran back was able to get on the field for almost 30% of the team's offensive snaps, finishing the day with five carries for 10 yards.
Freeman is just a few years removed from back to back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and will be looking to really get his season going Sunday. Los Angeles has surrendered 358 yards on the ground this season, 18th in the NFL, while their 4.8 yards per carry allowed is 22nd in the league. Bills running backs Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon combined for 89 yards on 16 carries last week, adding four receptions for 50 yards.
"It was good to see Devonta come in here last week and do as well as he did with the work that he got, both in practice and the snaps he got in the game," Garrett said Thursday. "He's been a really good football player in this league for a number of years. It's great to have him on board. He's learning more and more every day, and getting better and better and more and more comfortable with our systems. You'll continue to see more of him going forward."
C Nick Gates
It hasn't been an easy start to Gates' career as a center. Through the first three weeks, Gates has already had to go up against some of the league's most talented interior defensive linemen, including Pittsburgh's Cameron Heyward and Chicago's Akiem Hicks. In addition, San Francisco's Javon Kinlaw looks well on his way to becoming a very good defensive lineman in this league.
The Rams have one of the best, if not the best, defensive players in the NFL in lineman Aaron Donald. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been named All-Pro in each of the last five seasons, and it already appears like that streak will be extended to six. Donald has 11 total tackles (six solo) through three games with three sacks, three tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Donald is a wrecking ball in the middle of the defense in both the run and passing game.
"We have to make sure we know where 99 is on every snap," Giants coach Joe Judge said this week. "The thing that makes this guy so unique, I know this is going to sound very generic, but the effort he plays with is just truly relentless. This guy does things, you watch and think 'wow.' He really will show up and ruin your day…
"This guy is one of the most dominant players in the league. Everybody has to plan for him. This guy, it's nothing unique for him. He knows going in everybody has something in mind for him. But look, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
DB Logan Ryan
Logan Ryan joined the Giants just one month ago, yet it did not take long for the veteran to emerge as a leader in the secondary. Ryan has seen his playing time on defense increase each game, as he was on the field for 100 percent of the team's defensive snaps last week against San Francisco. Through three weeks, Ryan has registered 18 tackles (12 solo), two passes defended, one forced fumble and one quarterback hit.
Jabrill Peppers (ankle) was unable to get on the practice field this week, meaning Ryan will have to shoulder an even bigger load against the Rams. The veteran defensive back has earned a solid 71.1 run defense grade from PFF, and the Giants will need that going up against Los Angeles' strong rushing attack.
The Rams lead the league with 111 rush attempts while their 511 rushing yards ranks third. Ryan will have to support the Giants' front seven against LA's run game as Sean McVay will likely look to pound the ball on the ground. Ryan will also have to be prepared for Jared Goff and the air attack, as the fifth-year QB currently ranks eighth in the league with 863 passing yards.
"They have a really good running game. Obviously, their offensive coordinator and head coach is really good and talented," Ryan said earlier this week about the Rams. "They're able to mask everything to look the same. Their passes look like runs; their runs look like passes. Similar to last week, they exploit your weaknesses similar to [Kyle] Shanahan. They have a very good play caller and they have very good weapons.
"Their receivers are really good blocking receivers so when you have receivers who are willing to mix it up in the run game, that's more blockers you have to account for, for the runners. Their receivers are also able to run really good routes. I think they have really good receivers."
CB James Bradberry
Bradberry has been a rock in the Giants' secondary this season. The veteran corner has racked up a league-leading nine passes defended through three games, adding an interception and a forced fumble to his stats. Bradberry has gone up against talented receivers such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Allen Robinson and effectively shut them down, and Sunday should present another difficult task.
As Judge mentioned throughout the week, McVay uses a lot of pre-snap motion in order to get better matchups for his players. The Rams have a strong group of receivers led by Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but the unit also contains promising young receivers Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson. With Bradberry playing like one of the NFL's top corners, McVay is likely to move Woods and Kupp around the formation in order to avoid seeing coverage from Bradberry.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.