The New York Giants and St. Louis Rams had very high hopes entering the 2011 season, however both endured major stumbling blocks in their respective Week 1 encounters. The Giants ply their trade in the always competitive NFC East division, and looked dysfunctional on offence last week against a very mediocre Washington Redskins squad. Their passing game led by enigmatic quarterback Eli Manning was sub-par at best, and their defence, now devoid of key cornerback Terrell Thomas after a pre-season injury, looked disinterested as they were shredded by journeyman quarterback Rex Grossman.
The Rams meanwhile were the prohibitive favourite to not only win the weak NFC West, but be a dark-horse candidate to make noise in the post-season. Not to suggest they still cannot, after all it has only been one game, but the Rams were absolutely dismantled by the Eagles in Week 1. Led by former first overall pick Sam Bradford, the offense sputtered at key times in the game, and the former Oklahoma play-caller showed little evidence of what many expect to be a breakout season for him.
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Organizational depth will certainly be tested, as the prevailing theme of tonight`s game will likely be which team can best recover from the injuries both sides have been forced to endure. For the Rams, injuries have taken their toll for the squad both offensively and defensively. Tonight, St. Louis is certain to be without Bradford`s favourite target in Danny Amendola. Amendola caught 85 passes last year from Bradford and was poised to spearhead the Rams attack yet again, before an elbow injury will sideline him for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the Rams main game-breaker on offence, running back Steven Jackson will be a true game-time decision. Jackson is integral to the Rams` offense and has been a top performer out of the backfield for the past few seasons. If he doesn`t end up playing, and it is seeming that he`ll most likely be out, it puts much more pressure on the performance of a banged up Sam Bradford. The Rams`quarterback injured his index finger on his throwing hand in Week 1, and will be forced to sport a protective glove tonight.
The Giants meanwhile are dealing with their fair share of injuries for tonight`s contest as well. Like the Rams, New York could potentially be without their top game-breaker in wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Nicks, the third-year pro out of North Carolina is one of the premier pass catchers in the game, and he is officially listed as questionable heading into tonight`s tilt. On the defensive side, the Giants will be expecting a much more inspired performance under the Monday Night lights. They looked lost defending the pass, and it`s clear the absence of Terrell Thomas has both hindered the unit`s performance and leadership. To make matters worse, it is still unknown if Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck will suit up for the G-Men. The Giants looked soft against the run in Week 1, and the presence of the talented Tuck would almost single-handedly solve that issue.
Both secondaries looked shaky in Week 1 and vulnerable against the pass. However, the Rams and the injured Bradford simply will not have the weapons to exploit this, whereas Manning should rebound with a big game to key targets Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon, if Nicks does in fact sit out. Moreover, look for the Giants to better utilize their two-headed monster in the backfield as both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are hungry to make an impact on this young season. The two complement each other extraordinarily well and should provide a potent 1-2 attack to burst through the Rams` front seven. Last week, the Rams utilized blitzing packages on all downs, and if they do more of the same, Manning and Bradshaw are both capable of moving the ball quickly, and making them pay on defense.
The spread for this game opened in favour of the Giants, laying 6 points. Currently the margin sits at 7 and is expected to remain there until kick-off. Though injury reports are key to analyze before making any sort of bet, tonight`s statuses are imperative to determining your wager. Wait as close to kick-off as possible for the most up-to-date information. Despite all of the questionable, and doubtful statuses on both sides of the ball, the absence of Danny Amendola is the most devastating to both teams. He is of the Wes Welker mould, and is vital to Bradford in the passing game.
Without Amendola, and potentially Jackson, expect another game of struggles for a stagnant Rams offense, while the Giants should control the game on the ground with their two healthy running backs in Bradshaw, and Jacobs. Their ground attack is crucial to their offensive success as it loosens the defence, and makes the opposition vulnerable to their lethal air attack. Though their ground game only combined for an uninspiring 73 yards in Week 1, look for the Giants to be devoted to the run as it should be tonight`s key to success. Expect Manning to rebound in reading the Rams` blitzes effectively, and picking apart a depleted secondary in what should be a comfortable Giants win. Additionally, this should be a game filled with offensive mistakes and stagnation. Look for both teams to utilize the run in an attempt to move the ball, causing time to tick away on most plays. If key offensive players stay sidelined, consider the Under 44.5 points in this one. New York is 4-1 in their last five games against the spread playing in the spotlight that is Monday Night Football, and they`ll be anxious to put on a good showing in front of their always boisterous home crowd.