It will be a bright and early Sunday morning for fans of the Rams with the dreaded 10 a.m. PDT kickoff at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. On the plus side, the line suggests it should be worth getting up for the early start time with the Rams on the road as a 9.5-point favorite against the New York Giants.
It could’ve been harder to get up and get going if USC had a late game, but the Trojans are on a bye this week, so the Rams are the only team in the spotlight for this week’s write-up.
Los Angeles Rams (-9.5, 49) at New York Giants
The Rams were an even bigger favorite in this game Wednesday morning, but then Daniel Jones was in full pads and “on track” to play after suffering a concussion last Sunday against the Cowboys. The status of Jones could be in doubt into the weekend, as the final step in the concussion protocol is to be cleared by an independent neurologist. That bumped the line down from -11 to -9.5.
The Rams should win whether Jones or backup Mike Glennon starts. The quarterback that gets the call will lead an offense missing Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay. The Giants offense will get a boost from the return of Sterling Shepard, but Shepard will draw a ton of attention from the Rams and likely will be shadowed around the field by Jalen Ramsey.
Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense should be cause for optimism as well. The early-season dependence on Cooper Kupp may be a thing of the past after a huge breakout game from Robert Woods last week with 12 catches for 150 yards in the win over the Seahawks. Defenses had keyed on Kupp and the onus was on either Woods or Van Jefferson to get more involved. It was Jefferson against the Cardinals and Woods against the Seahawks.
Kupp has had double-digit targets in all five games, but after only catching five of his 13 in Week 4 against Arizona, the Woods game could not have come at a better time. The Rams go into Week 6 leading the NFL in yards per play with 6.7. They also lead the NFL in both net yards per pass attempt and adjusted net yards per pass attempt, as Stafford’s 12/3 TD/INT ratio is among the best in the NFL and the team’s 13.6 yards per catch are the most in the league.
The Giants defense projected a lot better than what we’ve seen so far. New York is 24th in yards per play allowed and has gotten very little pressure on the quarterback. The Giants rank 30th in Pressure% per Pro-Football-Reference and only have eight sacks through five games. Stafford with time to throw can be extremely dangerous.
The Rams are doing the early kickoff thing for the second time this season. In Week 2, the Colts had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line on their first possession and got stopped on downs. The Rams had a 90-yard touchdown drive on their first possession. We’ll see if they are better equipped for the early kickoff and the west-to-east travel having done it once and also with extra time to prepare coming off of “Thursday Night Football.”
It shouldn’t be a question of whether or not the Rams win, but rather, will they cover a big road spread?
Maybe the easier betting path here is the total. Without Barkley, the Giants are likely to rely on the pass to an even higher degree than they have. The Rams rank 28th in opponents’ completion percentage. The Giants rank 32nd. The Rams have gotten a lot more efficiency out of running back Darrell Henderson Jr. over the last two games, so they’ve found some more balance, but this offense still goes through Stafford’s hands.
The teams rank 29th and 30th in third-down defense. The total dropped as low as 47 with the expectation that Glennon was getting the start, but with a better prognosis for Jones, it has gone back to 49. Look for points Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Pick: Over 49
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