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Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck

Teams on opposite sides of a bye will wrap up Week 9 in the NFL when the Indianapolis Colts take on the New York Giants on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The Colts (5-3) are looking to bounce back from last week’s 51-34 thrashing to the Steelers and head into their Week 10 bye on a winning note. The Giants (3-4) are coming off of their bye in search of a strong start, as they prepare for the toughest stretch of their schedule. After tonight’s game, Tom Coughlin’s team will travel to Seattle followed by home games against San Francisco and NFC East foe Dallas.

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Indianapolis -3.5

Three Things to Watch

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1. Andrew Luck Takes a Bite Out of the Big Apple?

In his third season as Indianapolis’ starting quarterback, Luck has established himself as not only one of the best signal-callers in the NFL, but also a likely MVP contender for years to come. The No.1 overall pick of the 2012 draft, Luck has taken the mantle of Colts QB from Peyton Manning and run with it. Luck enter this game just two touchdown passes behind his predecessor for the league lead (24) and he’s No. 1 by himself in passing yards (2,731). This will be his first game against the Giants, but his second time playing in New York. In his rookie season, Luck and the Colts lost 35-9 to the Jets in a game in which he completed half of his passes (22-of-44) for 280 yards, no scores and two interceptions. Luck obviously has come a long way since that game, as the Colts went on to make the playoffs that season and won the AFC South in 2013.  And even though this will be Luck’s second game on the biggest regular-season stage the NFL has to offer, he will be more focused on helping his team bounce back from last week’s rather than what’s going on around him. Still, it should be a post-Halloween treat of sorts for a national primetime audience get to see one of the game’s brightest stars ply his trade tonight.

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2. Giant-sized Effort from New York’s O-line?

New York opened its season with two straight losses before winning three straight. The Giants then dropped their next two and are now hoping to end that streak coming out of their bye. For that to happen tonight, the offensive line will need do its job, not only in pass protection, but also in opening up holes for the running game. Eli Manning has been sacked 13 times this season, with 10 of those coming in the team’s four losses. What’s more, in the four losses the Giants have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry compared to 4.1 in their three wins. To be fair, it’s not just on the offensive line alone, as it did not give up a single sack to Dallas in New York’s last game after coughing up eight in a 27-0 loss to Philadelphia in Week 6. The ground attack took a big hit when Rashad Jennings injured his knee against Atlanta in Week 5. He won’t play tonight, meaning it will be up to fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis to carry the load. Combined this duo is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. But it all starts up front, as the offensive line needs to give the backs space to run and Manning time to throw, especially against an Indianapolis defense that gave up 522 yards passing and six touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger last week.

3. Week 8 Hangover Effect for Colts’ D?

Indianapolis’ defense is coming off of by far its worst showing of the season and then some. The Colts gave up 51 points and 639 yards of offense to Pittsburgh last week. Before then the most points they had allowed were 31 to Denver in the season opener and the most yards were 458 to Philadelphia the following week. What’s more surprising about what took place in Pittsburgh last week was the fact Indianapolis had just shut out Cincinnati and held the Bengals to 135 total yards the previous game. Whether it’s the difference between playing at home or on the road is up for debate, but if the Colts want to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender they know they need to tighten up things defensively. The good news is that some help is on the way in the form of starting free safety LaRon Landry, who is set to return after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Landry’s return means Indianapolis’ secondary should be back to full strength as Vontae Davis, who left last week’s game early with a knee injury, is expected to be out there tonight too. As well as the Colts have played, passing defense (252.9 ypg) has been a bit of an issue. Granted, Big Ben and the Steelers are responsible for quite a bit of the damage, but Indianapolis’ defense can’t dwell on the past and must focus on the task that lies ahead of them tonight. Will Eli Manning and the Giants find similar success through the air or will the Colts’ D rise to the occasion in the “Monday Night Football” spotlight?

Final Analysis

Indianapolis is still reeling from last week’s beatdown in Pittsburgh, while New York is rested coming off of its bye. However, the Giants won’t be at full strength with running back Rashad Jennings sidelined with a knee injury, which already puts them at a disadvantage against the NFL’s No. 1 offense. Even in the Colts’ three losses, Andrew Luck has played well and has shown he’s capable of carrying his team on his shoulders. Eli Manning has done that in the past, but he just hasn’t been able to perform that same kind of magic this season, as the Giants’ best games have come when they have run the ball successfully. Jennings’ absence has taken the starch out of this running game and I think it makes New York’s offense too one-dimensional. The Giants put up a fight at home, but the Colts still have Luck on their side and that will be enough to win tonight.

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Prediction: Indianapolis 27, New York 24