New York Giants Preview: Week 16 at Indianapolis Colts
The playoff hopes are over for the New York Giants, following their shutout loss to the Tennessee Titans last week. Now, they will embrace their role of spoiler, as they travel to the Crossroads of America to face the Indianapolis Colts.
Indianapolis is coming off a dominant victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, and look to do the same against another NFC East team in the Giants. The Colts need to win out to have a chance at clinching the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. And New York plans to put an end to those dreams.
Here’s what to look for prior to Sunday’s game.
Can Giants Pressure Luck?
The Giants’ pass rush has pulled disappearing acts at points this season, especially last week against the Titans. This season, New York has not had the greatest luck at getting to the quarterback, as they have just 25 on the year (third-worst in the NFL). Well, now they have to go get luck…literally.
Coming off a serious shoulder injury that kept him out for over a year, Andrew Luck is having an MVP caliber season. A huge factor in that is his ability to stand upright, thanks to his offensive line. Luck was injured in the past due to a innefective o-line, and now, general manager Chris Ballard made it the team’s main priority this offseason. Perhaps what put them over the edge was drafting Holmdel’s own Quenton Nelson, who has been dominating at the guard position. Between the pankcake blocks and getting under defenders’ skin, Nelson has become one of the more aggressive lineman in the league, in just his first season. So much so, he was named a Pro Bowl starter.
Luck has only been sacked 16 times this season, including a streak in which he wasn’t sacked in five consecutive games this season. Giving Luck time in the pocket always proves to be dangerous, especially with T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron as his primary targets.
As for the Giants, they will have to do so without starting middle linebacker Alec Ogletree, who has been ruled out with a concussion. So Tae Davis will have to step up to the plate and try to defend Ebron, who has proven to be Luck’s favorite weapon this season.
Banged Up Offense
The Giants offense struggled last week, not only because of the pouring rain in the Meadowlands, but due to the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. This week, the Giants enter the game wihout Beckham, plus more.
Fellow wide receiver Russell Shepard (ankle) and center Spencer Pulley (calf) have been ruled out for the game. So now, the Giants will have even higher obstacles to hurdle. In a form of convenience, Cody Latimer was activated from the injured reserve earlier in the week, and will step in as the No. 2 receiver in Indianapolis. In regards to their void at center, John Greco will enter the starting lineup to fill in for Pulley.
So, what’s the gameplan now?
No Reverting From Saquon Plan
Rookie Saquon Barkley was turned into a non-factor at the hands of the Titans. Some attributed it to the slippery weather conditions. Others credit Tennessee for game-planning accordingly. Whatever the case may be, the Giants will likely continue to use Barkley as the centerpiece of the offense.
Barkley has averaged 82.5 rushing yards per game, but he faces a tall task this week. He faces a Colts rushing defense that has allowed the eighth-fewest ground yards per game (103.6) just ten rushing touchdowns this year (tied for sixth-fewest in league). Perhaps the most telling statistic is that this Colts defense has not allowed a rushing play longer than 40 yards. Barkley will certainly look to be the first running back to do so, as well as surpass the 2,000 scrimmage yards mark.
Engram the Security Blanket
As for the passing game, Manning will utilize receivers Latimer, Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, and Bennie Fowler. However, the biggest name to look at is Evan Engram, who has come to life as of late. In the past two games, Engram has posted over 75 receiving yards, as he’s become quarterback Eli Manning’s security blanket. Expect the same to happen this week, but that’s if the offensive line can hold up.
Just last week, Manning was sacked three times. Now, he faces a Colts defense that has sacked the quarterback 38 times this season (12th-most in NFL). However, if Manning is to stay upright, he does have a chance on paper to put some yardage on the stat sheet, as the Colts have allowed 237.9 passing yards per game (16th in league).
The Colts defense is led by rookie sensation Darius Leonard, who leads the league in tackles with 146. Yet, he’s a bit more motivated entering this game, after he was shockingly snubbed from the Pro Bowl. Now, he’s looking to record 40 tackles against the Giants on Sunday.
Will that come true? Who knows, but there’s only one way to find out.
The Giants-Colts game kicks off on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET, live on CBS.
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