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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch for vs. the Colts

Here is what you need to know heading into the Week 16 matchup between the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts:

1. Back to Indy. In their second-to-last game of the season, the New York Giants (5-9) wrap up the AFC South with a road trip to Indianapolis. It will be their first game in Lucas Oil Stadium since defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. The Giants are 6-9 all-time against the Colts in the regular season, losing their last three meetings. The Giants host the Cowboys in the season finale.

2. Resurgent Colts. After a 1-5 start to the season, the Colts are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They have won seven of their past eight games, meaning this Sunday will have a playoff-type atmosphere as they look to stay alive for the postseason. Similarly, the Giants had a rough first half of the season with a new head coach and turned things around by winning four of five games after the bye week, punctuated by a 40-16 win over Washington. However, the Giants were shut out last week by the Titans and eliminated from playoff contention.

3. Pro Bowl trio. Three Giants, one from each phase of the game, were named to the NFC Pro Bowl teamthis week: rookie running back Saquon Barkley, safety Landon Collins, and kicker Aldrick Rosas. Barkley, the franchise's first rookie running back to get the nod since Tucker Frederickson in 1965, finished third overall in fan voting behind quarterbacks Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes (Pro Bowl players are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players, and coaches, with each group counting as one-third). It is the third consecutive Pro Bowl for Collins, who will not play in the game for the second year in a row after undergoing shoulder surgery, and the first for Rosas. The Giants also have three alternates: special teamer Michael Thomas (first alternate), outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (first) and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (second).

4. Beckham to miss another game; injury report. Beckham has been ruled out for the third consecutive game with a quad injury he sustained when he was leg-whipped on the final play of the Giants' Week 12 game in Philadelphia. He played the following week. Linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion), center Spencer Pulley (calf) and wide receiver Russell Shepard (ankle) are also out. Defensive lineman Kerry Wynn (thumb) is questionable.

5. New center of attention. The offensive line had a "hiccup" last week, according to offensive coordinator Mike Shula, after playing its best five games of the season. Now the group will work John Greco back in at center after Pulley left the Titans game with the calf injury. Greco started six games for the Giants earlier in the season – four at center and two at guard. Undrafted rookie Evan Brown will be active for just the second time this season, coach Pat Shurmur confirmed. 

6. Rookie showcase. Sunday will feature some of the top candidates for Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year. Giants fans know all about Barkley, who is third in the NFL in scrimmage yards (1,809). On the other side, the Colts boast linebacker Darius Leonard, a second-round pick who leads the league in tackles. Indianapolis also has guard Quenton Nelson, who became the first rookie offensive lineman for the Colts to make the Pro Bowl since 1983. Shurmur said the Giants had him rated "very highly" in the 2018 NFL Draft, which saw Nelson go four spots after Barkley. It's safe to say both teams are happy with their picks. Shurmur said this week, "They added Nelson, a rookie, and lo and behold they're blocking better and playing better offense – an interesting concept."

7. Luck has everything to do with it. Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, who missed all of 2017 due to injury, is making a push for Comeback Player of the Year. The Colts quarterback is completing 67.3 percent of his passes with 34 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. He won his only previous game against the Giants, throwing for 354 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-24 victory in 2014 at MetLife Stadium.

8. Mack attack. 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. In their eight wins, the Colts average 134 rushing yards. In their six losses, they average 73. The disparity is even greater for the Giants, who average 149 yards on the ground in wins to just 76 in losses.

9. Giants looking to clean up missed tackles. According to defensive coordinator James Bettcher, 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. That was in their second game without Collins, a defensive co-captain who still leads the team in tackles. The defense will also play without Ogletree, who is second in tackles, putting more responsibility on the shoulders of B.J. Goodson and the rest of the linebacker corps.

10. No playoffs, no letdown. There is a narrative in sports these days that teams should just mail it in when they are eliminated from winning a championship. Shurmur didn't buy it when his team went on a 4-1 run after a 1-7 start, and he's certainly not feeding into it now. "Why? I'm curious about that because I don't know why," Shurmur said after Friday's practice. "Let's assume you have a finite number of games that you're going to play as a football player. Let's assume that. I don't know why you would let down. On the rare occasion when you're in the playoffs and that next game means nothing, I see resting guys, but in this case here, we're coaches and players. We're paid to play and it just so happens that our profession is our hobby. I don't – I've never understood that. That's part of the narrative that I don't understand because as football players, coaches – sometimes you play poorly. We didn't play well last week in some areas and we lost, but it wasn't because we went in there and let down. I don't get that."

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set for today's matchup in Indy

Dan Salomone

Managing Editor,

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