By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants got a lot of good news as they watched the action from around the NFL Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles won but likely lost quarterback Nick Foles for an extended period of time, and the Washington Redskins had their two-game win streak snapped against the Minnesota Vikings. Now, the Giants have a chance to completely capitalize if they can beat the Indianapolis Colts tonight on Monday Night Football.
If the Giants can beat the Colts Monday, and they are the underdog at home, they will hit the midway point of the season at 4-4, two games behind the division-leading Eagles and 1.5 games back of the Cowboys, who very well could be without their quarterback, Tony Romo, for another week.
Beating the Colts, however, is going to be a huge task, as Indianapolis is 5-3 and leads the AFC South. They won five in a row after losing their first two games of the season before allowing 51 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week in a loss. They are 2-2 on the road.
The way to stop the Colts is to stop quarterback Andrew Luck, something only the Eagles in Week 2 have been able to do. In that game, Luck threw for 172 yards in a three-point loss. In every other game, Luck has thrown for more than 300 yards. He's thrown for more than 340 in six of eight games and has reached at least 370 yards passing in four.
The onus of a Giants victory lies in the hands of the defensive backs, as they must have one of their best games of the season to hold Luck and Indianapolis in check. If they can, the Giants will be that much closer to a season-changing victory at home.
Here are the three keys to victory as the Giants host the Colts on national television in primetime. Read our Giants-Colts game predictions here.
Giants Must Get Lucky
The Giants will be facing one of the best quarterbacks in the league Monday night and they must find a way to contain him, as Luck will get his yards and likely a couple of touchdown passes as well. The Colts are a passing team first, second and third, as they have more passing completions than they do rushing attempts, averaging 336.5 yards per game. The Giants must get big performances from cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who has had a strong week of practice) and Prince Amukamara, along with safety Antrele Rolle, to keep this game from getting out of hand early on. The biggest way to do that is to force Luck into turnovers, something he is prone to do. Luck has thrown nine interceptions and lost a fumble in eight games this season. He obviously has no problem taking chances down the field, so the Giants have to take advantage when given the opportunity to pick a pass off. If the Giants don't get at least one turnover, it might be impossible to beat the Colts Monday night. Getting a pass rush on Luck would help that goal tremendously, but the Colts have allowed just 13 sacks all season long.
Stopping An Old Friend
Former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has had a career resurgence with the Colts this year. He has rushed for 371 yards and two touchdowns, with a 4.9-yard per carry average. He's been even more effective in the passing game, catching 31 passes for 264 yards and six touchdowns. Covering Bradshaw out of the backfield will be key, and the Giants linebackers will likely have that assignment. If Bradshaw gets open out of the backfield, it will be that much easier for Luck to hit receiver T.Y. Hilton down field for a big play later on, as the Giants will be creeping closer to the line to account for their former teammate. The common theme for the Giants Monday night will be to cover.
All On Manning
This could be a recipe for disaster for the Giants, as when Eli Manning takes all of the responsibility for the offense's success, it typically results in a big number of interceptions. But there might be no alternative in this game. The Giants can't run the ball, as Andre Williams takes over for Rashad Jennings as the feature back once again. Williams hasn't had anywhere near the success Jennings had before the latter was lost to a knee injury, which shouldn't be surprising considering he was a fourth-round draft pick. But that big drop will put more pressure on Manning to win the game through passing game. The Giants need big games from Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle on the outside and tight end Larry Donnell over the middle to give Manning all the help he needs to carry the team to victory. Luck is going to get his yards, and Manning just might have to match him to get a big win.