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2014 NFL Week Nine Preview: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

The Colts head to New York / New Jersey to take on the Giants on Monday Night Football. Can they bounce back after their not-so-great performance in Pittsburgh?

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in 2014 the Colts get an extra day of rest, traveling to New York to take on the Giants on Monday Night Football. Also for the second time it'll be against an NFC East opponent, as they've already lost to the Eagles back in Week 2, thanks to some questionable officiating, poor coaching decisions, and lackluster execution. It was their third straight MNF loss after a string of nine wins in ten games. Let's hope that gets turned around soon.

The Giants are 3-4 so far in 2014, and have been very streaky. They lost their first two games, rather convincingly, before playing really well for three straight weeks, then losing twice before their bye week last week. By the Winning Stats, they are the second least consistent team in the NFL (only the Chiefs are less), so it is a little bit of a crapshoot on which Giants team we'll see Monday night. I do know the Giants haven't lost the week after their bye since 2007 though.

Until this season the Colts had not lost back-to-back games under Chuck Pagano, so they've always moved on from losses, even ones where they got pummeled like last week. They do get an extra day to get healthy, as they're hoping to get Reggie Wayne back from his elbow injury, and Trent Richardson sounds like he'll be more than an emergency 3rd RB, although I'm guessing Ahmad Bradshaw is going to have some extra motivation going against his former team. Also going against his former employer is Hakeem Nicks, who has struggled getting into a rhythm with Andrew Luck all season, and did not have a big game despite taking over for Wayne last week in the starter role. The Giants will be missing RB Rashad Jennings once against this week, who's been out with a knee injury for over a month now.

The two franchises have played 16 times over the years, with the Colts holding a 10-6 edge overall. Since moving to Indianapolis they've played just six times, splitting those 6. The Colts have won the last two meetings, a 38-14 near-perfect game by the Colts in 2010, and a 26-21 Week 1 win back in 2006 in what were affectionately known as "Manning Bowls". The two teams are very different though, as Eli Manning and Antrel Rolle will be the only Giants starters still there from the 2010 game (unless you count Bradshaw/Nicks), and Wayne would be the only guy for the Colts (excepting the specialists). Four years doesn't seem like a long time, but you can see just how much turnover there is in the NFL today.

How do these two teams match-up for their Monday night showdown? Let's take a look at the numbers and find out.

Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Giants (Adjusted):

Statistic Colts Giants
Offense Rank Defense Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank
DSR 77.3% 3 66.4% 9 72.3% 9 69.5% 18
ANPY/A 7.152 4 5.385 14 5.487 21 5.541 18
Turnovers 2.17 26 1.93 9 2.09 25 1.80 12
Yds/Drive 36.60 3 27.88 13 27.52 22 29.64 16
ToP/Drive 3:01.0 5 2:13.0 1 2:47.0 14 2:33.0 12
Yds/Play 6.003 4 5.325 19 4.722 27 5.781 27
Orange Zone Eff 60.3% 9 58.1% 24 61.3% 6 65.8% 30
First Downs/Drive 2.10 2 1.57 13 1.89 9 1.58 15
3rd/4th Down 44.7% 7 28.8% 2 41.7% 9 31.9% 5
Avg Start Pos 31.1 13 25.2 1 31.6 11 31.2 22
3 and Outs 3.15 10 4.72 5 2.74 5 4.66 6
RZ Eff 68.3% 12 73.0% 27 68.1% 13 73.4% 29
Plays/Drive 6.138 5 5.098 4 5.841 12 5.137 6
Penalty Yds / Play 0.769 14 0.798 17 0.538 2 1.008 7
RB Success 44.7% 14 46.3% 23 39.0% 28 31.6% 1
Yds/Carry 4.23 11 4.73 25 3.84 22 4.56 24
Overall 5 10 16 16

Keys to the Game:

  • The Giants are the quintessential "average" team. They rank both 16th on Offense and 16th on Defense. If you want to measure any team against a league average, you compare them to the Giants.
  • The Colts should be able to move the ball, like they have most of the year, as I only see one stat where the Giants are good as well (more in a minute on that). Drive Success Rate plays nicely into the Colts hands, our most important stat, so that's a good sign.
  • The one stat, and this goes for both sides of the ball, which I think will decide the game is on 3rd/4th Down. All four units rank in the top 10 in the NFL, so it'll be strength-on-strength when both teams have the ball. We all know what the Colts did the four previous games before the Steelers one, so we know they can get opposing Offenses off the field, but I'm wary after last week, especially if Vontae Davis isn't 100% (he should play though).
  • When the Colts get down in scoring position, they must finish drives with touchdowns, as the Giants Defense ranks 30th and 29th in Orange/Red Zone Efficiency. We saw them settle too many times last week and they have to take advantage of a team that isn't good at keeping teams out of the end zone deep in their territory. If we see Adam Vinatieri a lot, it's bad news.
  • Look for a T.Y. Hilton bomb at least once, if not a couple times off of play-action. Yards per Play is not a strong suit of the Giants Defense.
  • The Giants do rank best in the NFL in RB Success Rate Defense, so I'm suggesting on short yardage they may want to look Dwayne Allen or Coby Fleener's way.
  • When the Giants have the ball, they look to turn the ball over just as much as the Colts have this year, ranking just ahead of them at 25th, over two per game. A couple turnovers to flip the field, especially if they struggle like last week to get them off the field, will go a long way towards winning. If only the Colts Offense will take care of the ball as well.
  • Like when the Colts have the ball, the Giants should be aiming to score TDs when they get close to the end zone, as they hold a healthy edge on the Colts in Orange/Red Zone Efficiency as well. Along with 3rd/4th Down, these two stats should determine the outcome of the game, so be sure to watch and impress your friends when you tell them that before the game.
  • Since Jennings got hurt, the Giants rushing game has been non-existent. Let's hope the Colts can jump out early and keep it that way.

I haven't seen it brought up much (thankfully), but these two teams did play a preseason game earlier this year, where the Giants third-stringers scored 20-some straight points to win in the 4th quarter. The eventual outcome really was meaningless, but the early parts of the game, when these players were playing and the Colts were controlling the game, can be used as a sign of things to come. The Giants have been known to win games, especially in the second half of the season, when they aren't supposed to, but I think the Colts bounce back nicely after last Sunday, fix some of the problems defensively, and take care of business Monday night. A late TD makes it look more one-sided than it really will be, though.

Colts 31, Giants 21