INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (8-6) take their final homestand of the 2018 regular season this Sunday when they play host to the New York Giants (5-9).
The Colts are in a heated AFC playoff race, currently sitting in the seventh spot, holding the same 8-6 record as the Baltimore Ravens (sixth) and Tennessee Titans (eighth).
Last week, the Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 23-0, at home as they displayed the type of defense that can shut out some of the hottest offenses. Ahead of them is a potentially explosive Giants offense featuring a handful of weapons such as Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard.
Can the Colts keep it up this week? Let's take a look at this week's opponent.
Without injured Pro Bowlers Beckham (quad) and Landon Collins (shoulder) for a second consecutive game, the Giants fell to the Tennessee Titans (8-6) last week, 17-0.
New York's defense did a respectable job against Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and the passing game — holding them to 86 net yards through the air — but running back Derrick Henry crushed them on the ground to the tune of 170 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.
Overall, the Giants held Tennessee to 301 yards, but the Titans made the plays they needed to, going a combined 6-of-15 on third and fourth downs (40 percent).
New York wasn't able to muster much on offense, obviously — especially on the scoreboard.
The Giants had just 260 yards of offense (213 passing), with Barkley only able to put together 56 yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Eli Manning went 21-of-44 passing (47.7 percent) for 229 yards with one interception and one lost fumble. He also continued to struggle against the pass rush, getting sacked three times.
The Giants were just 3-of-16 on third down (19%), but were 2-of-3 on fourth (67%). Another thing that really hurt was penalties, as they were called for 10 total flags for 58 yards. Their inability to stop Henry and sustain their own drives led to a difference in time of possession of almost 11 minutes.
The Colts know they need this one if they want to continue building postseason momentum here at season's end. A big question mark they have, though, is the status of Beckham. Even if he does play, the Colts might have a good shot of containing him, as they haven't surrendered a legit receiving performance since Week 6 against Jermaine Kearse and the New York Jets. Since then, they've contained the likes of Amari Cooper, Corey Davis, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Dede Westbrook.
If Beckham can't give it a go, the main receiving threats the Colts will need to concern themselves with are Barkley, Engram and Shepard, but they combined for just 137 yards on 14 receptions last week.
Likely the biggest target will be on Barkley and the run game, similar to Ezekiel Elliott last week with the Cowboys. Barkley has failed to reach 100 yards from scrimmage just twice this season, but the Colts have only allowed it to an opposing running back five times.
The Colts should also be able to capitalize on New York's porous pass protection, which has surrendered the fifth-most sacks in the league. In eight matchups against teams among the 10 worst at protecting their quarterback, the Colts have 23 sacks (2.9 avg).
The Colts' offense, meanwhile, faces a Giants defense that ranks well in a few pass defense categories, but their run defense is a different story, ranking near the bottom of the league.
The Colts have the ability to throw for 400 yards if they need to, or run for more than 200 if that's the plan, so the Giants will need to pick their poison at what they're going to try and take away.
2018 KEY STATS
- 1st in run plays of 40-plus yards (6)
- 25th in rushing offense (101.7 YPG)
- 26th in third-down offense (35%)
- 28th in red zone offense (46.7%)
- 28th in time of possession (28:44)
- 28th in sacks allowed (46)
- Tied for 30th in carries per game (21.4)
- Tied for 4th in passing touchdowns allowed (18)
- 5th in red zone defense on the road (45.0%)
- 6th in opponent passer rating (86.5)
- 28th in run defense (128.4 YPG) and opponent carries (29.0)
- 30th in sacks (25)
- 30th in fourth-down defense (80% [12-of-15])