Aaron Donald’s cap is priority # 1 for the Giants.
John Schmeelk: fact – If we want to limit this to the Giants offensive, absolutely. Aaron Donald is a spoilsport. The Rams line him up along the entire line of defense trying to find cheap matchups. He actually put up more on the defensive this year than on the defensive tackle. With three sacks, eight quarterback hits and five tackles for loss, he’s always in the backfield. His 29 prints are the fifth highest in the NFL this season. The Giants need to know where each move is and adapt accordingly. The toughest generic matchup for the Giants is slowing down the Rams’ passing game, which has been one of the most efficient attacks in the league this year. Matthew Stafford was great and the Rams have multiple guns to feed them in the passing game.
Dan Solomon: Fiction – Saying Aaron Donald is priority # 1 is like reminding a soccer player to put shoulder pads on. Of course. The real key is to stop the run, especially at the beginning of the game. If the Giants don’t do that, it will play right into Sean McVay’s hands.
Lance Medow: fact – Aaron Donald is three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is tied with three in sacks for team leadership, has a team best of five tackles for loss, and has also forced a fumble and recorded two passes defended. The 7-time pro bowler can easily ruin a game due to his ability to stop the run and get to the quarterback. The Rams are putting him even more on the edge this season to give the offensives a different look. With Los Angeles secondary school in Darious Williams losing one of their most precious corners to an ankle injury, the last thing you can afford is for the top seven to make up for it, with Donald doing much of the heavy lifting.
Matt Citak: Fiction – Aaron Donald is a force in the middle of the Rams defense and undoubtedly needs to be a top priority for the Giants on Sunday. But the number one priority for Big Blue has to be to stop the run. The Giants handed 201 yards to the Cowboys last week, a week after surrendering 170 yards on the ground to the Saints. The run defense comes in this game on rank 28 both in the rushing yards overall as well as in the yards allowed per attempt. That is not enough against the Rams’ explosive offensive. Darrell Henderson averages just under 5.0 yards per carry with 15 attempts per game this year. If the Giants don’t go to MetLife Stadium to finish the run on Sunday, the third year running back could have a huge game ahead of them.
NFC West is currently the best league in the NFL.
John Schmeelk: Fiction – With Russell Wilson’s injury and Trey Lance (as soon as he returns from his injury) moving in as the 49ers quarterback, they’re following a deep and formidable AFC West. Despite their record, the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are still the Chiefs in last place. Justin Herbert looks like a star in the making for the Chargers. The Raiders have lost twice in a row and are struggling with some drama but are still a good team. The Broncos are 3-2 and have a very even team. The Giants have drawn the AFC West too short this season.
Dan Salomone: fact – The four teams are combined in games outside of Division 9-3. Enough said.
Lance Medow: Fiction – NFC West features the league’s only undefeated team in the Arizona Cardinals and the Rams, who are 4-1, but you have to look at the division as a whole, not just the top two teams. The Seahawks have just lost quarterback Russell Wilson for a few weeks to finger surgery, and the Niners signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo has a calf injury. The defenses of these two teams were also up and down. Based on these factors, NFC West isn’t the best league; the booty goes to the AFC Nord. Not only do they have three teams with winning records, but the team in last place, the Steelers, remain dangerous because of their strong track record and respectable defense. Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh together scored a 7-3 at home and the Ravens are one of the hottest teams in the league (four wins in a row). The AFC Nord is also one of only two leagues with three teams each with a positive point difference.
Matt Citak: Fact – For this game it could almost become a fiction as Russell Wilson’s injury (which could leave him out for 4-8 weeks) is a significant blow to Seattle’s playoff chances. But with everything going on in Las Vegas, along with Denver’s offensive fighting, NFC West gets a slight nod to AFC West. The Cardinals are the only undefeated team in the NFL, with Kyler Murray leading the way in the MVP race. Not far behind him is Matthew Stafford, who has the Rams firmly in conversation with the Super Bowl contender. These two teams are two of the best in NFC. The 49ers are 2-3 after three straight defeats but came up against Green Bay, Seattle (with Wilson) and the Cardinals. Trey Lance may be going through some growing pains, but the young quarterback flashed enough in his limited action to make me believe Kyle Shanahan can develop him into a very good signaler. If Wilson can get back on the earlier side of this aforementioned timeline, NFC West’s teams could be battling for two wildcard spots.
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