The Giants will look to rebound from last week's loss and pick up their first win of the season when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams at SoFi Stadium this Sunday.
The Rams enter this matchup at 2-1, with both wins coming against the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles). Los Angeles is coming off a heartbreaking Week 3 loss against the Buffalo Bills in which they overcame a 28-3 deficit to take a four-point lead, only to lose on a last-second touchdown.
Here are five story lines to follow heading into this Week 4 battle in Los Angeles.
The primary things Joe Judge and his staff have been preaching since the start of training camp are playing disciplined and fundamentally sound football. Overall, the Giants have done a pretty good job of that on the penalty front as the team has accumulated just 12 penalties for 63 yards through the first three weeks of the season. However, turnovers have played a big role in the team's 0-3 start.
The Giants enter Week 4 with seven turnovers, tied for the second-most in the NFL. In addition, 24.1 percent of their drives have resulted in an offensive turnover, the highest mark in the league. Daniel Jones has accounted for six of those turnovers, finishing with two in each of the first three games. The second-year quarterback will have to improve in this area for the team to have a shot against the Rams, as Sean McVay's unit has done a good job of forcing turnovers through three weeks.
The Rams come into this game ranking in the Top 10 in forced turnovers with five, all of which have come in the last two games. Los Angeles picked off Carson Wentz twice in Week 2 and added an interception and forced fumble against Josh Allen last week. While they've done well with turnovers, the Rams are allowing over 250 passing yards per game this season, offering Jones a chance to have a big outing through the air.
"I think you look at each one of those individually and try to understand what happened, what the mistake was and move on from it," Jones said about his turnovers following last week's loss. "You know, I need to do a better job and that's something I'm focused on. I think those are costly mistakes and I certainly need to correct them."
Getting the run game going
It's no secret that the Giants have struggled to run the ball this year. Heading into Sunday's game, Big Blue ranks last in the league in rushing yards (170), yards per attempt (3.2) and first downs by rushing (9). Of course, the Giants lost star running back Saquon Barkley early in their Week 2 contest against the Chicago Bears, which supplied a big blow to the team's rushing attack. But the NFL is a "next man up" league, so getting the run game going will be pivotal against the Rams.
Jones has been the team's leading rusher in two of three games. Veteran Devonta Freeman was on the field for 15 snaps vs. the Niners after signing with the team just a few days earlier, and is likely to see more playing time as he becomes more familiar with the offense.
The Rams rank 18th in the league after allowing 358 rushing yards through the first three games, with all three opponents reaching the 100-yard mark. Last week, Buffalo's two lead running backs, Devin Singletary and T.J. Yeldon, combined to have 16 rush attempts for 89 yards and an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
"We have to work to be a balanced team," head coach Joe Judge said this week. "That's balanced whether it's running and passing, balanced offense and defense, balanced with the kicking game, playing complementary football. There are a lot of things right now that we have to make sure the Ying and the Yang factor out for each other. But we have to do a better job overall as a team, and we have to do a good job complementing each other on offense to help out the passing game and the running game."
Stopping Aaron Donald
The Giants have had to face some of the league's most talented defensive linemen in the first three weeks of the season. Things are not about to get any easier for the O-line, as a battle against possibly the top defensive player in the NFL is on deck. A first-team All-Pro in each of the last five years, Aaron Donald is off to another amazing start. The six-time Pro Bowler has three sacks, three tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his first three games, and is coming off a two-sack performance against Buffalo.
Donald offers the biggest challenge yet for center Nick Gates. But speaking to the media on Monday, Gates seems up to the task.
"He's a really good player, it's going to take a lot of execution and a lot of being fundamentally sound to win this ball game come Sunday..." Gates said about his opponent. "Aaron Donald, he's the best player I have ever gone up against. Just try to take it snap by snap, get a good game plan for him and see how it goes."
View photos of the Los Angeles Rams' starters ahead of the Week 4 matchup against the Giants, based on their unofficial depth chart.
Limiting Rams' run game
The Rams may not have a featured back, but that has not stopped their run game from enjoying a ton of success this season. Los Angeles has gained 511 yards on the ground through three games, ranking third in the league, while their six rushing touchdowns rank second.
In Week 1, Malcolm Brown led the Rams backfield with 18 carries for 79 yards and two scores, adding three receptions for 31 yards. Over the last two weeks, second-year running back Darrell Henderson has rushed the ball 32 times for 195 yards, averaging just over 6.0 yards per carry, and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 36 yards. In addition to these two, the Rams also have rookie second-round pick Cam Akers, who missed last week with a rib injury. Each of these three backs offer a unique skill set and challenges to opposing defenses, and none can be taken lightly.
On top of the three backs, Sean McVay has also given wide receiver Robert Woods several carries this year. The veteran receiver has gained 63 yards on seven tries. The Giants allowed 49ers rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk to rush for 31 yards and a touchdown on three carries last week, and will have to keep an eye on McVay finding creative ways to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
After struggling to stop the run in the first two games, the Giants did a much better job against San Francisco. Running backs Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson combined for only 53 yards on 26 carries, but managed to find the end zone. Regardless, it was an encouraging improvement from Weeks 1 and 2.
Containing LA's pass-catchers
Sean McVay is undoubtedly one of the smartest offensive football minds in the league. We already got into the success of the run game, but McVay has been able to create a tremendously balanced offense with a strong passing attack as well, led by a talented group of pass-catchers for QB Jared Goff to target.
Goff is averaging nearly 290 passing yards per game this season and has done a good job spreading around the ball. Cooper Kupp has been the leading receiver with 18 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown, while Woods is right behind him with 13 catches for 193 yards and a score. Josh Reynolds typically operates as their third receiver, but rookie Van Jefferson is only three games into his NFL career and has already shown flashes of why the Rams selected him in the second round. Not to be forgotten is tight end Tyler Higbee, who is tied for the lead among tight ends with three touchdowns.
James Bradberry has done a stellar job of shutting down the opposing team's top wide receiver this season. However, McVay tends to use a lot of pre-snap motion in order to create better matchups for his skill-position players. This could lead to Woods, the Rams top outside receiver, lining up in the slot at times in order to avoid coverage from Bradberry.
"They're a very balanced team," Judge told reporters Wednesday. "They're very effective in what they do. They find creative ways of creating the same looks, that they can operate on familiar and give you a couple of curveballs that you have to react to. In terms of motions and movements, the shifts, Sean is always looking for an edge to create a matchup. He does a tremendous job right there."
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.