The New York Giants may not have much to play for, but they must excel in a few key areas to escape Indianapolis with a victory.
The New York Giants (5-9) take on one of the hottest teams in the NFL on Sunday as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts (8-6). The Colts have won seven of their last eight games and are fighting for a playoff spot.
With their playoff hopes over after the 17-0 loss to the Titans last week, all the Giants have to play for is their pride and the chance to play the role of spoiler.
The Giants haven’t defeated the Colts since 2002, and the Colts are one of two teams (Chargers) that Eli Manning has never defeated.
These two teams were polar opposites last week as the Giants were shutout 17-0 by the Titans and the Colts shutout the Cowboys 23-0. So the odds are against the Giants winning on Sunday.
Here’s what they’ll need to do if they’re going to pull off the upset.
1. Get pressure on Andrew Luck
Luck is playing the best football of his career as he has 34 touchdown passes to just 13 interceptions, and his quarterback rating of 98.4 is the highest of his career.
He’s a legit MVP candidate and should have been voted to the Pro Bowl this week. If the Giants can’t get pressure on Luck, he’ll pick the Giants defense apart. Olivier Vernon, Lorenzo Carter and the rest of the Giants defense must pressure and knock Luck down if they’re going to have a chance on Sunday.
2. Win the battle of the line of scrimmage
The main reason why the Giants were shutout by the Titans last week is that they were dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage. They gave up 215 yards on the ground and only had 47 yards rushing themselves.
Last week Colts running back Marlon Mack had 139 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. They can’t afford Mack to have similar numbers or things could get ugly on Sunday.
3. Win the turnover battle
The Colts are clearly the better of the two teams and are playing at home. So the Giants are going to need to generate some turnovers to get extra possessions, while not turning the ball over themselves. Eli Manning was the culprit of two turnovers last week and must do a better job of holding onto the ball this week.
For the season the Giants are slightly better than the Colts in turnover differential as they are plus-three and the Colts are plus-two.
4. Need a big game from Saquon
Against the Titans, Barkley was held to 31 yards on 14 carries and had four receptions for 25 yards. It was only the second time this season Barkley was held to under 100 all-purpose yards. The Giants have to get Barkley going on Sunday if the offense is going to have any chance of moving the ball especially if Odell Beckham Jr is unable to play due to his quad injury.
Barkley is just 191 all-purpose yards shy of 2,000. It may take close to a 200 all-purpose yard day by Barkley if Big Blue is going to pull off the upset.
5. Have a nothing-to-lose mentality
With no hopes of the playoffs, the Giants need to have a go-for-broke mentality on Sunday and be bold with their offensive and defensive play calling. Attack the Colts secondary deep, blitz more often on defense, and try a trick play. They also need to show a willingness to go for it on fourth down. Pat Shurmur needs to have an aggressive mindset.
Based on how the Colts are playing, if the Giants win, it would be their most impressive win of the season. But with the natural letdown of being eliminated from the playoffs, it’s hard to see the Giants pulling out a win on Sunday.