The Giants and Rams are two different clubs than they appeared just a year ago:
Last year, the Giants used a victory over the Rams to lay the groundwork for an extended winning streak and eventually a trip to the postseason.
This time around, they're just trying to salvage what they can on domestic soil.
The teams from opposite coasts met in London last year as part of the NFL International Series. Landon Collins' breakout performance in that game became a microcosm of the defense, which built itself into the No. 2 scoring unit in the league. The Rams, on the other hand, lost all but one game after that and finished 4-12.
The scripts have flipped in 2017.
The Giants have already surpassed their 2016 loss total, while the Rams, under rookie head coach Sean McVay, have exceeded their number of wins from a year ago. And there are still nine weeks to go, beginning with a meeting at MetLife Stadium this Sunday.
The biggest reason for the Rams' turnaround on the field is quarterback Jared Goff.
The first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was a healthy scratch when his team faced the Giants in his rookie year. It was Case Keenum who threw four interceptions that day at Twickenham Stadium. The Rams eventually turned to Goff three games after that, and Sunday will mark his 15th career start. Through seven games this year, the Rams boast the No. 2 scoring team in the league, averaging 30.3 points per game.
"He seems to be gaining confidence," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said today on a conference call with Rams reporters. "He's definitely a young quarterback that has a lot of tools and has some good rhythm in his body. The system seems to fit his skillset. He's very comfortable dealing with the ball, whether it's under center or in the gun.
"He's come a long way in a short time in this league under center. He spent a lot of time in the gun, but he's got some nice weapons to distribute the ball to – that helps, some guys that he's building chemistry with that obviously are some players that have some football smarts to them."
The Giants have already seen another quarterback take a big leap in his second season. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz, who was drafted one spot behind Goff, led the Eagles to victory over the Giants in Week 3.
"The first year to the second, I think the confidence goes up," McAdoo said. "It's a game of confidence at all positions, but especially that quarterback position. They know what to expect, they can adjust to the speed of the game, they understand what's open and what's not open – windows open and close quickly in this league and guys aren't wide open. It's tough to pop guys wide open in this league and have enough time to do it like you can in college. I think that they understand ball placement and timing and rhythm are very important, and Goff seems to be making a lot of progress in those areas."
Quarterback isn't the only change, however.
McVay, who at age 30 was hired as the youngest head coach in NFL history, brought over a similar offensive scheme from Washington, where he previously served as offensive coordinator. He hired NFL lifer Wade Phillips to run the defense, which has switched from a 4-3 to 3-4. But the personnel remains just as dangerous, beginning with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
"The system may be different on defense, but you're getting a very good front seven that plays hard, that has a ton of speed and creates messes in the backfield," McAdoo said. "And special teams is a challenge to play obviously, with everything that they do from a formation, a schematic standpoint, to challenge you. They try to force you to play on your heels.
"Offensively is where they're a little bit different and not really necessarily some of the things you'll see schematically, but the tempo and the pace that they play with. They try to change speeds on you that way in and out of the huddle with some no-huddle and try to match up what they're doing underneath and down the field, but they have a lot of new starters – three new guys on the offensive line, new skill players. A quarterback that's young and coming into his own and a running back that is as talented as anybody in the league."
A look at the playmakers of the Giants' upcoming opponent