Giants vs Colts : The New York Giants return to Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI. While it won’t be exactly the same atmosphere, playoffs will be in the air – for the Indianapolis Colts.
The 5-9 Giants were officially eliminated from postseason contention with a loss last week, putting a hitch in their second-half run. The 8-6 Colts, meanwhile, have found their stride and won seven of eight games. They look to secure a spot in the postseason with two weeks left.
“Really for us, defensively, it’s like a playoff game,” Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “This is a team that’s playing to get into playoffs and we’re playing and it’ll be a playoff atmosphere for us. Hopefully we’re going to be able to get two of those these next two weeks. We’re going to try to go to Indy and take care of this one.”
Bettcher said the Giants allowed over 100 yards rushing after missed tackles in Week 15, when Tennessee’s Derrick Henry ran 33 times for 170 yards and a pair of goal-line touchdowns. Since Week 7, which kicked off a 7-1 run for the Colts after they started the season 1-5, Indianapolis is averaging 126.5 rushing yards per game. The stretch includes two games with at least 220 yards and a 178-yard performance in last week’s shutout (23-0) of the Cowboys and their top-five defense. The Colts have three players with at least 300 rushing yards this season. Marlon Mack, a 2017 fourth-round draft choice, leads the group with seven rushing touchdowns since Indianapolis turned things around in Week 7.
“If you take those plays [with missed tackles] into consideration and you just cut it in half, then you just really change the situations we’re able to put them in on defense,” Bettcher said, “and we’re able to force them into doing some things that maybe we wanted them to do and to use some other tools in our box.
Indianapolis enters the second-to-last week of the season with the best offense in the NFL on third down. The Colts are converting 48.4 percent of the time, and it is not much of a secret why. Former first overall pick Andrew Luck has the most completions on third down (Eli Manning has the second-most). It also helps when the offense has allowed just 16 sacks, tied with New Orleans for the fewest in the league. Despite ranking 30th in sacks this season, the Giants’ defense is in the middle of the pack on third down, allowing conversions on 38.8 percent of attempts.