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Game Preview: On the Road Again — Week 9 Against the Giants

The Rams will be on the road once again, travelling to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon to face off against the Giants. The contest will be the team's third-straight game away from the Coliseum. 

Though both teams are coming off of a bye in Week 8, the Los Angeles and New York have very different goals in mind for the latter half of the regular season. At 5-2, the Rams have their best record since 2003, while the Giants are off to one of their worst starts in the last 10 years at 1-6.

On Sunday, the Rams will look to add one more win to their currently undefeated record on the road. The team will also look to nab its first win against the Giants since 2002.

Because the clubs are in different divisions, they do not play each other every year. And while the Rams have won 25 of the 41 games in series history, New York has defeated the club seven times in a row.

But even at 1-6, the Rams know a win over the Giants won't be easy to come by.

"You definitely have to watch," wide receiver Sammy Watkins said of Sunday's contest. "They have quarterback Eli Manning first of all [and then] they have great players and great coaches, so you have to be cautious of teams like this."

In head coach Sean McVay's former role as Washington's offensive coordinator, he faced the Giants twice every season. From that experience, McVay says he has a deeper appreciation for the talent on New York's roster.

"One of the things you realize about this league is that it's one day at a time, one game at a time and if you don't take that mindset and mentality, you get humbled very quickly," McVay said. "With the previous experience that I have going against this team, they'll be ready to go and we need to be ready as well if we're going to come away with a win."

But the Giants have not been so fortunate on the injury front this season. Early on, New York lost two of its primary receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to season-ending ankle injuries. In total, the team will be without four of its starters including, offensive lineman Justin Pugh and defensive end Olivier Vernon.

Despite the injuries to their offense, the Rams defense knows not to take Manning — a two-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler — for granted. 

"You have a lot of respect for what he has done in this league and the type of player that he is," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "[But] for us it's just a matter of us doing our jobs the best that we can and trying to limit him from getting started. Because if he gets hot, he's gone."

The Rams secondary will need to be on point on Sunday afternoon, especially when it comes to wide receiver Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram — who represent two of the Giants' best pass catchers. Engram currently leads all NFL rookies in receptions (30) and has scored three touchdowns this season.

"They are pretty banged up right now, but they've got Sterling back this week who is a high-quality receiver in this league," safety Lamarcus Joyner said. "They have the young rookie, Engram, and they have two other complementary receivers that do a pretty good job in the system."

Los Angeles is coming off of a shutout performance over the Cardinals, a fact that should motivate the team come Sunday. Expect the front seven of the Rams defense to have another big game in Week 9, especially after a week of rest with the bye. 

On offense, the Rams will be tasked with translating the success they have shown throughout the first half of the season into another solid performance. Quarterback Jared Goff has had one of the best year-to-year developments in the NFL this season. Through seven games he has completed 60 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns. 

Against the Giants, Goff will need to get a variety of his receivers involved as they matchup with a tough New York secondary. While the Giants will be without their No. 1 corner Janoris Jenkins  — who was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules — they still boast Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins and Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

"They have some good players and they throw a lot of different looks at you to try and confuse an offense," tight end Tyler Higbee said. "But they have some good players on that side of the ball and they are better than what their record shows." 

"I think they're talented across the board on all three levels," Goff said. "They're all great players all across the board and you have to be wary of them and be careful."

In last season's game against the Giants, New York held Los Angeles scoreless in the second half, as the Giants scored 17 unanswered points to take the contest. Left guard Rodger Saffold, who started last year's contest against New York, said the Giants have "added a couple more guys that have really been able to help them in the back end."

"As far as the D-line, they are just as physical, they move well and they have a lot of different guys they can use that have been able to help out," Saffold said. "Things haven't gone their way this year, but after a bye week you get to reflect, go over some things and try to make a run. So they are going to give us everything they have this week."

Even with additions, expect much of the same from the Rams offensive line — a unit that has been one of the most solid in the league this season. If the O-line is able to get running back Todd Gurley going early on in the contest, it should be able to open up the passing game as well.

"Taking a look at them, we have our hands full, but we'll be ready for the task," right guard Jamon Brown said.  

Overall, the Rams will need to come together in all three phases on Sunday against the Giants on the road. After Week 9, Los Angeles will return home to the Coliseum to face the Texans. Kickoff for Sunday's contest is set for 10:00 a.m.

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