The Rams expected to be carried by their defense, yet injuries and a thin secondary have conspired to shake their foundation to the core -- they've given up more than 30 points in back-to-back games.
The Giants' spending spree on defense has mostly paid off, but Eli Manning and the team's up-tempo offense has been stuck in neutral for much of the season. They are hopeful last week's late explosion against the Ravens kickstarts their season. The Giants arrived in London on Friday, four days after the Rams. Odell Beckham admitted he was "exhausted" and the team didn't receive the jolly welcome typically reserved for International Series teams.
The game provides a chance for both teams to reset. They were each two games above .500 early this season, but the losing team in this first NFL game at Twickenham Stadium will have a losing record entering the bye week.
*Here's what to watch for: *
"The attention goes to Aaron," coach Jeff Fisher said this week about the impact of Quinn's absence. "I guess that's most obviously stated. It goes right to Aaron. They feel like they can win the one-on-ones outside. ... But basically, when he is on the edge, the fire power on the edge is going to require help, so that takes one more person offensively out of the routes of distribution."
2. Aaron Donald vs. Justin Pugh: Donald expressed confidence to NFL.com about his matchup with Pugh, the Giants' right guard. Pugh is a familiar foe from their days together facing off in the Big East. Donald noted Pugh's short arms and remembered hearing a lot of trash talk during their college days. Donald might finally get single blocked in this game, which could lead to a big performance.
"I've just been getting a lot of attention," Donald said. "Lot of double teams, a lot of slide protection. It's going to come. I haven't had that big game yet this year with three or four sacks but it's going to come."
Fisher made it clear he intends to focus plenty of attention to Beckham, which should give rookie Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz favorable matchups. It's rare to hear an opposing coach openly admit his team is at a matchup disadvantage, but that's what we heard from Fisher this week. Perhaps the Rams will try other ways to get Beckham off his game.
4. Beckham sideline brawl, take 2?
"You gotta protect yourself," Beckham said. "Stay ready so you don't have to get ready."
NFL Network Steve Wyche's reported that No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff will soon get more reps at practice after making significant strides in practice since Week 1. That puts a shorter leash on Case Keenum, even though he's coming off a career best game. With the bye week coming up, we wouldn't be totally stunned if the Rams made a change at quarterback if Keenum faceplanted Sunday. That possibility is in play because of the talent on the Giants' defense.
Ultimately, these are two teams squarely in the soft middle of the NFL. No result would surprise, but the Giants have more overall firepower on each side of the ball. Barring a truly dominant performance by Donald and Quinn, we give New York the edge.