Stakes are becoming greater as we pass the midway point of the 2014 NFL season. Still, the Indianapolis Colts, despite coming off a loss, are a lot more relaxed due to the situation in their division, arriving to play against the New York Giants, a team in must-win mode.
Eli Manning is used to playing his brother when facing the Colts. Used to might be an exaggeration. It’s the third time he’s met the Colts, losing to his brother on the previous two occasions. The Giants are 3-4 in the NFC East, quite a problem although the Dallas Cowboys are showing signs of slowing down since they’ve beaten the Giants. The Colts did lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers with Andrew Luck showing his “ability” to make mistakes. Still, in the AFC South, it’s very hard to not to finish first.
The Colts aren’t very good at running the ball, but they make up for it by putting it in the hands of Luck. The Colts are averaging 336.5 yards per game in the air, more than anyone in the league. In total, it comes down to 452 yards of offense each game. Luck also has nine interceptions as Chuck Pagano is putting a lot more faith and emphasis on the future of the franchise and his decision making. Most of the time it works pretty well.
Eli Manning isn’t having a bad season. He hasn’t put his accuracy where it was declared it’d be – instead of touching the 70% right now he is at 64.5%. But Manning is playing well, as his offensive line is doing a good job most of the time, not allowing him to be hit too much, helping him throw just five interceptions through the first seven games. It showed against the Cowboys, but there were other reasons the Giants lost that game.
The Colts are difficult to put up big numbers against, especially on the ground with the ninth best run-defense in the NFL. Rashad Jennings won’t be playing again, which means a big problem for the Giants offense, making it a lot more predictable. They did get 104 yards on the ground in the loss to the Cowboys, but Jennings was the only reliable and consistent option to make rushing plays before he went down with an injury.
The Giants keep losing players to injuries – Victor Cruz, Jennings, and more than enough on defense, like every year. But they’ve been finding answers to the Cruz absence. They looked solid up to the loss against the Eagles, and played better than the scoreline suggests in the loss to the Cowboys. If this is really a special season for them like those in 2007 and 2011, the last time they also made the playoffs, now is probably the last opportunity to start picking up momentum.