Last Sunday was the first meaningful game the Colts have lost in the Regular Season since Week 8 in 2008, when they lost to Tennessee on a Monday night. They ripped off 9 straight to end 2008, then won their first 14 in 2009, before, well, you know. It's a weird feeling to head into a game coming off of a Colts loss, and a feeling I'd like to not repeat next week. Coming into town are the New York Giants, and apparently their Quarterback is related to the Colts QB. I should look into that...
The Giants are coming off of a 31-18 win over the Panthers at home, opening up the brand new Meadowlands Stadium. Despite turning the ball over 4 times, the Giants dominated a listless Panther team. I have a feeling that turning the ball over 4 times this week won't have the same outcome. Eli Manning was 20/30 for 263 and 3 TDs, all to Hakeem Nicks. He also threw 3 INTs.
In the first and only Manning Bowl, Adam Vinatieri kicked 4 FGs, including one with 1:14 left in the game, to beat the Giants 26-21. This was Vinatieri's first game as a Colt, coming up large right away. Nick Harper came up with a big Interception with 4 minutes to go in the game, and Dallas Clark had a key 3rd down catch on the ensuing drive to eat up some more clock. You can watch the NFL Network's Game of the Week from that game here (great for me as I didn't watch it live).
Let's get to this Sunday's game. After the jump you'll get all the stats for both teams from Week 1, and some keys to the game:
|Avg Start Pos||27.8||21||31.5||22||35.4||6||42.8||32|
|3 and Outs||1.00||1||2.00||25||2.00||5||6.00||4|
|Penalty Yds / Play||1.058||22||0.820||16||1.418||30||1.000||12|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||27.80||30||39.00||14||16.00||32||36.50||8|
- We'll start with throwing the football. Peyton Manning was fantastic last week, even though he was beaten and battered on almost every play by the Texans defense, having the 5th best performance of the week. The Giants defense was in top form, posting the best Defensive ANPY/A of last week. However, there is a big difference between Matt Moore and Peyton Manning. Peyton will look to shred the Giants defense, much like he did to the Texans in Week 1.
- The Giants defense was also best in the league last week in RB Success Rate, which is quite an accomplishment against DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart. Without actually looking at the tape, I'm guessing they had 7-8 guys in the box the whole game, forcing Moore to beat them, which he obviously couldn't. While Joseph Addai may not get the Rushing Yards that Williams and Stewart get on average, I bet he (Addai) has better success against the Giants Defense.
- The Colts were obviously pretty terrible defensively last week, except in Pass Defense, where they were slightly above average. Both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis both had a sack, and Matt Schaub threw an INT to Melvin Bullitt. The Giants, even with the 3 INTs thrown, were pretty average throwing the ball last week. We'll see if the Giants decide to throw the ball any more than the Texans did last week.
- The Giants may look like a good running team on paper, with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, but they certainly didn't show it last week. It's tough to tell from one week whether it was because the Panthers are actually good against the run, or the Giants can't run the ball, but I certainly hope it is the latter.
- Field Position may play a part in the game Sunday. The Giants gave up the worst field position last week, with the Panthers, on average, started at their own 42 yard line. They were also pretty terrible in Net Punting Average, thanks to a big punt return by the Panthers. The Colts had a Kickoff Return TD by Devin Moore called back due to a penalty, which is a welcome development for the Colts (not the holding penalty, the TD part).
Some other keys to the game:
- While the Giants don't have as good a Defensive Lineman as Mario Williams, their front 4 is very good all the way across. Hopefully last week was an aberration for the Colts O-Line, and they have worked out any problems they may have had. Getting Charlie Johnson back healthy will also be important. The Colts absolutely need to keep Peyton upright Sunday night.
- Can the Colts force the Giants into passing situations? This includes 3rd and longs, as well as getting a lead in the game. We all saw what can happen when the Colts fall behind, and it got worse as the deficit got bigger. Eli made several mistakes last week, and that only happens if the Colts force him to throw the ball.
- How will the Colts respond to a loss? Again, they really haven't had this feeling since the middle of the 2008 season. Can they come back after a loss, against a good team, opening up at home for 2010?
- Peyton absolutely cannot be forced to throw the ball 57 times like he did last week. That's just not a recipe for success in the long run. Addai and Donald Brown need to be more of a factor this week, to take the pressure off of Manning's shoulder. They're going to need it in December/January.
The Colts are favored by 5.5 in most places around the betting world, and I just can't see it being that big of a margin. I think the Colts will look to make a statement Sunday night, especially the defense. Remember last year, when the Colts got utterly dominated on defense by a team? They came out the next week, on a Sunday night, and destroyed a Playoff team from the NFC. I don't see destruction of the Giants, but I do think the Colts will take care of business at home.
Colts 28, Giants 24