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What to watch for: Giants vs. Colts storylines

Get to know the Giants' opponent for Saturday's match-up vs. Indianapolis Colts

1. The nine-game season starts now.

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Fresh off their bye week, the New York Giants (3-4) start the second leg of their season two games back in the loss column to the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-2). After winning three straight and then dropping back-to-back road games to the aforementioned teams, the Giants are now trying to figure out which team they will be down the stretch, which begins with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. Coach Tom Coughlin delivered a message to his team to start the week.

"I think the message also was that you look around the league and you see teams that are playing superbly that maybe hadn't been playing superbly," Coughlin said. "So to me, we've got to play above the X's and O's. We've got nine games to play as well as we can possibly play. I think anybody in that locker room can do that. They just have to realize the amount of the season and the schedule that's gone by, and yet we have nine opportunities. Let's go. One at a time."

*2. The next men up. *

The Giants lost their second of five team captains this week when the decision was made for starting middle linebacker to undergo season-ending toe surgery. That came just two weeks after the team lost wide receiver Victor Cruz with a torn patellar tendon.

Meanwhile, starters like running back Rashad Jennings (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf), and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back and hamstring) are all dealing with injuries and will await word on their statuses for Monday night.

3. A tough four-game stretch opens with trying to solve QB Andrew Luck and the Colts.

After their break, the Giants' next four opponents -- Indianapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Dallas -- have a combined record of 19-11 through the first half of the season. The good news? Three of those games are at home. The bad news? The one road game in that stretch is at Seattle, home of the 12th Man.

"We have to be ready for a good football team," general manager Jerry Reese said. "When we started out, we looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year and we thought right after the bye was kind of like Murderers' Row, but in this league, every week is Murderers' Row. You have to go out there and execute, and we have to play more consistent football."

4. Welcome back, Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks.

The former Super Bowl-winning Giants will suit up for the first time against their old team on Monday night. Bradshaw already has an incredible six receiving touchdowns this season as a running back, in addition to 76 rushes for 371 yards and two more scores.

Meanwhile, Nicks has collected 18 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

5. Giants Homecoming Weekend culminates with Michael Strahan receiving his HOF ring.

On Monday night, Nov. 3, the Giants will celebrate their storied tradition by welcoming back more than 100 former players and legends for "Giants Homecoming Weekend" leading up to and during the prime-time matchup with the Colts.

The highlight of the evening will be a special halftime ceremony honoring the great Michael Strahan, who will receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring. Fellow Hall of Famers Frank Gifford, Lawrence Taylor, and Harry Carson will be there to salute Strahan.

Beforehand, there will be a special pre-game ceremony honoring more than 60 Big Blue greats, including Mark Bavaro, Carl Banks, Amani Toomer, Jason Sehorn, Ottis Anderson, Jessie Armstead, Joe Morris, Brandon Jacobs, and Rodney Hampton.

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