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Rams-Giants: 2 teams headed in opposite directions

November 4, 2017
Associated Press

The Giants and Rams face off Sunday following their bye week.

While the Giants desperately needed some time off to figure out why they have been the NFL's biggest disappointment, the Rams probably could have skipped the hiatus after becoming the league's most pleasant surprise.

Not helping New York one bit is turmoil in the secondary and locker room. For the second time in a month, coach Ben McAdoo suspended a cornerback for breaking team rules. First it was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who missed one game. Now, it's Janoris Jenkins.

Considering the Giants are 1-6 and the Rams (5-2) have shown plenty of firepower on offense, that's a bad omen for New York.

Asked if McAdoo, who last season led the team to its first playoff berth since winning the NFL title in the 2011 season, had lost control, standout safety Landon Collins said:

"We continue growing with him and trying to be a great team and stay together because our back is against the wall right now," Collins said. "We can't fight against each other. If we fight against each other, things are definitely going to go bad."

Things have definitely gone well for L.A., which is tied for the NFC West lead with Seattle, is 3-0 on the road and is averaging more than 30 points a game. Second-year quarterback Jared Goff has taken nicely to new coach Sean McVay's schemes, Todd Gurley is having a strong rebound season, and placekicker Greg Zuerlein leads the NFL with 84 points, including 21 of 22 on field goals.

The vibes are all positive. Still, McVay is being cautious.

"I think the one thing that you appreciate about this league is that every single team on any given week can win," he said, "and if you're not ready to go, you get exposed and you get humbled very quickly.

"This league is so competitive that every single week, if you don't bring it, like we said, you get exposed, especially against a very good team like this."

The action began Thursday night with the New York Jets' 34-21 home victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Matt Forte ran for two touchdowns four days after complaining the Jets (4-5) didn't run the ball enough, and an overwhelming defense sacked Tyrod Taylor seven times. The Bills dropped to 5-3.

Off this week are New England, Cleveland, Chicago, the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

Kansas City (6-2) at Dallas (4-3)

The big story line here figured to be how the Cowboys fared without the suspended Ezekiel Elliott, but a federal appeals court in New York blocked his suspension for this weekend. The running back will go back on the legal path next week, but he's set to face KC.

The Chiefs can set a franchise record with a 10th straight road win going back to Oct. 16, 2016, at Oakland. They have plenty of weapons on offense, and LB Justin Houston is beginning to resemble the dynamic game changer he was before injuries slowed him.

Dallas also has a sackmaster in end DeMarcus Lawrence , the NFL leader with 10½ sacks. He can join Minnesota's Everson Griffen with at least one sack in each of the first eight games this season.

Tampa Bay (2-5) at New Orleans (5-2)

Teams headed in opposite directions.

New Orleans has won five straight and is showing a staunch defense that was totally unexpected. Rookie CB Marshon Lattimore has been particularly stout, along with end Cameron Jordan.

Plus, the Saints have lots of balance on offense with Drew Brees throwing to Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr., and handing off to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who both can catch the ball well.

Tampa, one of the league's biggest disappointments, has dropped four straight. Having lost five of the past six in the Big Easy makes its chore more difficult.

Baltimore (4-4) at Tennessee (4-3)

Two teams with severe passing ills: Baltimore ranks dead last, Tennessee is 26th.

Defense is more palatable. The Ravens have two shutouts this season and have playmakers in C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Brandon Carr.

The Titans figure to keep it on the ground as much as they can with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Marcus Mariota has thrown for 1,956 yards with 14 TDs and two interceptions with a 106.7 passer rating in his past eight home games, and is likely to take off when necessary.

Cincinnati (3-4) at Jacksonville (4-3)

Bengals QB Andy Dalton is 3-0 against the Jaguars, completing 65 percent of his passes. In A.J. Green, he has one of the top targets in football, and Green likes facing Jacksonville; he has 14 receptions for 251 yards and three TDs vs. the Jags.

If Jacksonville truly is going to be a contender in the up-for-grabs AFC South, it must find some home wins. The Jags have an NFL-worst 9-29 record at home (not including five London games) since 2011. They have dropped nine of 10 at EverBank Field. They come off a 27-0 victory at Indianapolis.

Indianapolis (2-6) at Houston (3-4)

As for those Colts, the debacle of Andrew Luck's shoulder woes — he's now on injured reserve — damaged the season. They've lost three straight, and with the 31st-ranked defense, get a break because they won't be facing Deshaun Watson, who had the high-powered Texans offense humming.

Watson tore a knee ligament in practice Thursday and is gone for the season; Tom Savage will start.

Watson had 402 yards passing with four TDs and ran for 67 yards last week to become the first player in NFL history with at least 400 yards passing, four passing touchdowns and 50 or more yards rushing in a game. He's the first rookie to have three or more touchdown passes in four straight games, and his 19 TD passes are the most in NFL history through a player's first seven games.

Atlanta (4-3) at Carolina (5-3)

At last, Atlanta plays a division game. Carolina has played only one, beating Tampa Bay last week. The Falcons come off a strange stretch in which they played all four AFC East teams in a row, going 1-3. So they are unbeaten, if underwhelming so far, in the NFC.

Carolina has succeeded at hogging the ball, second in time of possession. And its defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in four games this season, including the past two.

These teams need to avoid turning over the ball, which has been a problem. The Falcons are minus-5 in takeaway/giveaway margin, and the Panthers are minus-7.

Denver (3-4) at Philadelphia (7-1)

Struggling Denver is making a quarterback change, from Trevor Siemian to Brock Osweiler. Yep, that Osweiler, the guy who backed up (and started for) Peyton Manning during the 2015 championship season, then left as a free agent in Houston. He flopped there, was traded to Cleveland and cut by the QB-starved Browns. The Broncos re-signed him and, guess what ... he'll be behind center Sunday in Philly, where the team is 1-5.

Philadelphia has no such issues, with Carson Wentz developing in his second season into a premier passer and leader. He will face a fierce defense, but the way the Eagles are rolling and the Broncos are reeling, that might not matter.

Detroit (3-4) at Green Bay (4-3), Monday night

Coming back from a bye, the Packers hope Brett Hundley has mastered enough of the offense to keep their season afloat. This will be his second career start; Aaron Rodgers is sidelined long term with a collarbone injury.

Hundley has a good group of receivers, and rookie Aaron Jones is averaging 5.58 yards per carry.

Detroit not only has lost three in a row to the Packers, but the Lions have dropped four of their past five in 2017. They don't do much on the ground, although they could with Green Bay ranked 26th in run defense. Matthew Stafford must produce with his arm regardless.

Oakland (3-5) at Miami (4-3)

Both come off lopsided losses. Miami has the NFL's worst offense, had been shut out twice this season, and dealt one of its few proven commodities, RB Jay Ajayi, to Philadelphia.

But the Dolphins have won five consecutive meetings with the Raiders, who also have dropped five of their past six games this season. And Raiders' opponents have a passer rating of 108.2, the highest in NFL.

Oakland's defense has no interceptions in 246 passes. The Raiders are the first team to fail to intercept a pass in the opening eight games of any season.

Washington (3-4) at Seattle (5-2)

One area the Seahawks have struggled is on the offensive line. They hope acquiring left tackle Duane Brown from Houston after he was superb in the Texans' loss to the Seahawks last Sunday will be a cure. Brown had held out until reporting last week, then whipped on Seattle's normally strong D-line.

"I got to practice a couple of days going into it," Brown says. "I was a bit nervous at first because it's not quite the defense that you want to have to face on the road for your first game back, but I felt pretty good. I stayed in shape, I made sure I did some work on my own so I wasn't completely just going out there fresh off the couch, but there was a bit of rust I had to shake off going into it.

"But I thought I performed pretty good."

Clearly, so did Seattle.

The Redskins have won their past two games in Seattle, where the Seahawks usually are dominant.

Arizona (3-4) at San Francisco (0-8)

After being competitive early in their losing streak, the 49ers have gotten blown out by Dallas and Philadelphia. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo from New England for a second-year pick to see if he will solve their QB woes. No team that has played eight games has scored fewer than San Francisco's 133 points.

Still, this is a winnable matchup. Arizona has been ravaged by injuries, the latest being quarterback Carson Palmer's broken arm.

___

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