Late-peaking Rams, Giants meet first time since 2011

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. has been virtually unstoppable. The St. Louis Rams could just be the team to hold down the prolific New York Giants rookie.

The Rams (6-8) have not allowed a touchdown in three straight games, a franchise record. After consecutive shutouts against the Raiders and Redskins, they surrendered four field goals in a 12-6 loss to NFC West-leading Arizona last week.

Of course they're confident.

"I mean, it's really good," defensive end Chris Long said. "It's great to be a part of it. With the talent we have in the room and the coaching we have, we really believe anything's possible."

St. Louis is heavily invested in a unit that's stepping up under Gregg Williams. The line, led by Robert Quinn, is all first-rounders; high-dollar linebackers James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree are jousting for the team tackle lead; and a young, hard-hitting secondary is beginning to jell.

Larry Fitzgerald was neutralized last week with seven catches for just 30 yards. Washington's Colt McCoy was sacked seven times and intercepted twice, and the Rams had six sacks and three picks against Oakland.

The Giants (5-9) have improved recently, too, putting it together in consecutive double-digit wins after losing seven straight. Beckham's breakout has been a welcome distraction for a franchise mulling the future of 68-year-old coach Tom Coughlin.

Last week, Beckham had a dozen receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns against Washington. Despite missing the first four games, he's set a rookie franchise record for yards receiving and with nine TD catches is one shy of the franchise rookie mark set by Bill Swiacki in 1948.

"The sky is the limit for this guy," safety Antrel Rolle said. "Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, you name it."

Eli Manning must make quick reads, and he'll be looking for Beckham. The 12th overall pick is averaging seven receptions per game, by far the most among the five rookie wide receivers taken in the first round.

"We're not going to try and force records for him," Manning said. "But if we have good matchups, then we'll keep getting him the ball."

Things to watch for in Giants-Rams:

COUGHLIN'S FUTURE: The Giants' upswing began before winning their last two. The last three losses in the seven-game skid were by a total of 10 points, although it included a one-point setback to 2-12 Jacksonville. Since coaching his second Super Bowl championship with New York after the 2011 season, Coughlin is 21-25.

"No, I don't think about it at all," Coughlin said. "I focus on my team and trying to be the very best that we can be and making sure that we all combine to make a great effort. That's where my thoughts go."

Coughlin has 163 career regular-season wins, second on the active list behind Bill Belichick, but just one ahead of the Rams' Jeff Fisher.

RAMS FUTURE: There's a very slight chance the home finale could be the Rams' swan song in St. Louis. The team could break the lease after the season if the Edward Jones Dome is not rated in the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums. There appears to be movement behind the scenes: Former Anheuser-Busch president David Peacock and attorney Robert Blitz, both experienced in dealing with the league, were hired to consider options that might persuade billionaire owner Stan Kroenke to stay put. They're expected to present findings soon.

Kroenke has been mum on the subject, but a rapid-fire move back to perennial stalking horse Los Angeles would be tricky given the logistics.

UNFAMILIAR FOES: The Giants have won five in a row in the series and are up 3-0 by an average score of 37.7 points to 17.7 with Manning. But this will be the first meeting since 2011, and the first in St. Louis since 2008. Both coaches referenced that, Fisher calling the Giants an "uncommon opponent," and Coughlin noting former New York defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo led the Rams the last time out.

HILL'S FUTURE: Shaun Hill is 3-2 since recapturing the job as stand-in starting quarterback for Sam Bradford. The 34-year-old journeyman has been effective if far from flashy, but he couldn't produce a touchdown last time out and could be playing for next year's backup job.

"It's important for us to end the season on a high note," Hill said. "That's what we have this week. We'll worry about next week next week."


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