This week the New York Giants bring a 5-8 record to Indianapolis, and while they have been eliminated from the playoffs, they are still very capable of pulling off an upset. The Giants started off in a slump, beginning the season with a 1-7 record. Now, they have won four out of their last 6 games, and hope to finish on a strong note heading into the offseason. Two games this year by the Giants include going on the road to beat the current AFC South leading Houston Texans, and besting the NFC North champion Chicago Bears at home. It’s also worth noting that 6 of New York’s losses have been by 7 points or less.
As the season has gone on, quarterback Eli Manning and rookie running back Saquon Barkley have built solid chemistry, as Barkley has caught 82 passes from Manning, for 654 yards and 4 touchdowns. Barkley has also had a very successful rookie campaign running the ball, as he has tallied 1,155 yards (3rd in NFL) and 9 touchdowns (tied for 5th in NFL). Barkley will be the second top 5 running back the Colts will face in as many weeks.
There are a couple items of concern for the Giants. The first, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been out for last two weeks, is trending towards missing this week’s game as well. The second, the Giants missed OBJ last week, as the New York offense put up a goose egg against the Tennessee Titans, falling 17-0 and effectively knocking them out of playoff contention. Not having OBJ would be a huge loss for a Giants team that will have to face a top 10 Colts defense this Sunday. In fact, since week 7, the Colts are the number 1 defense in yards against, and only have one game all season in which they haven’t forced at least 1 turnover. Over the last three games, they’ve been even more impressive, as they’ve averaged just 9 points against. This week will feature a unique battle of rookie of the year candidates when Saquon Barkley faces off against Darius Leonard. Leonard is currently leading the NFL with 146 tackles to go along with his 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 6 pass deflections, and 1 interception.
On the offensive side, Indianapolis is operating like a well oiled machine. They currently rank 8th in points per game (26.6) and total yards per game (381.5), as well as 7th in passing yards per game. (273.6) Andrew Luck ranks second in the NFL in touchdown passes with 34, and the Colts’ offensive line is tied for first in the NFL with just 16 sacks given up on the year. Indianapolis also has 2 Pro Bowl selections. The first is veteran Eric Ebron, who is having not only a career year for himself, but has set Colts franchise records for receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns as a tight end (12 and 13 respectfully). The other Pro Bowler is rookie guard Quenton Nelson, who made headlines earlier this season as the NFL offensive rookie of the month in October. This was the first time the award had been given to a guard in NFL history, which certainly speaks volumes about his level of play and character on and off the field.
Overall, I believe Indianapolis is the more complete team in this matchup. Especially if Odell Beckham Jr. misses his third straight game to a quad injury, look for Indianapolis to pull ahead early and stay there. With the Tennessee Titans likely looking at a win against the banged up Washington Redskins this weekend, and the Baltimore Ravens facing a tough opponent in the Los Angeles Chargers, the Colts and Titans could be playing for a wildcard spot in week 17. This week, I’ve got Indianapolis winning this one 28-17.
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