The Indianapolis Colts face the New York Giants Monday night. Both team’s are needing a win, but for very different reasons.
The Colts want to wash the taste of last week’s embarrassing loss out of their mouth while the Giants are trying to rebound from two divisional losses. Indianapolis (5-3) looks like a team that is bound for the playoffs and another AFC South title. New York (3-4) is looking at missing the playoffs once again and a bad showing in what was thought to be a weak conference.
Here’s what fans should be watching for:
- Defensive Confidence. The Colts were absolutely shredded last week. Some of the players admitted that they were cocky and walking around as if no one could score after shutting down the Bengals two weeks ago. After the big slice of humble pie, it will be interesting to see which defense shows. The reality for this unit is somewhere between the Bengals shoutout and Steelers blowout.
- Bounce Back. No one rebounds from a bad showing better than Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck is 11-1 after a loss, and after a blowout loss the generally come back with a convincing win. Luck even comes back from turnovers with touchdown drives. Expect the Colts to have fewer coverage breakdowns and a sharper offense against the Giants.
- Ascent to Greatness. What Luck has done this season has become par for the course. Peyton Manning spoiled Colts fans with weekly brilliance and Luck has continued that tradition. Don’t take his career for granted, you don’t want to see how most of the NFL lives. Luck is tied for most touchdowns in NFL, and leads in passing yards. Saying he isn’t “great” is a flat out lie. Make sure to enjoy the journey.
- The Revenge. Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks are both former Giants (Super Bowl winning Giants, in fact) and neither got an extension from New York. We have already seen Nicks play with a little fire against the Giants back in the preseason. There is a good chance that it carries over to this week. Expect a little more motivation from from these two players who have scored a combined 32 touchdowns at Met Life Stadium.
- Depth Chart Shake Up. Last week proved that Donte Moncrief should be getting more snaps on the field. He’s clearly a better option as the team’s third receiver than Nicks. With Reggie Wayne back (but maybe not 100-percent), what will that do to Nicks? Luck might have so many options he won’t know what to do with himself.
- The Tight Ends. Neither the Colts nor the Giants are very good at covering the position. They rank 30th and 32nd respectively (for reference, there are 32 teams in the NFL). Both feature very good tight ends in the Colts’ Dwayne Allen and the Giants’ Larry Donnell. Donnell is particularly dangerous as he is the Giants best receiving option with Victor Cruz out for the year. Expect both to be targeted early and often.
- Different Quarterbacks. Eli Manning will forever be linked to Ben Roethlisberger for a number of reasons. Both were drafted in the first round in 2004 and they’ve each got a pair of Super Bowl rings(z). But that’s about where the comparisons end. Manning isn’t a bad quarterback at all, but he’s not nearly as good as Roethlisberger. It would honestly be a surprise if Manning didn’t throw an interception on Monday.
Don’t expect this game to be a shootout like last week, or nearly as high scoring. This is a much more likely win that last week’s game against the Steelers.
Expect the Colts to head into the Bye Week with a solid victory, and plenty of time to prepare for the Patriots.