The New York Giants (8-6-1) and Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1) will square off on Sunday afternoon in a Week 17 matchup at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Giants opened the week as 4.5-point home favorites and that has increased slightly. They are -5.5 as of this writing.
With this matchup on tap, Giants Wire took the opportunity to hold a Q&A with Colts Wire managing editor Kevin Hickey.
What have you seen out of Jeff Saturday since his controversial promotion to interim head coach?
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Hickey: It has gone about as expected. If anything, the Colts have shown there truly is a natural process to becoming a head coach. Saturday is a solid motivator and was a smart player. He certainly knows the game and does have the potential to be a successful head coach. But he’s making mistakes that even typical rookie head coaches tend to avoid. He brings an old-school mentality on offense but hasn’t seemed to have a positive impact on the offensive line.
Saturday is not ready to be a head coach yet but considering Jim Irsay’s impulsiveness, it would not shock me at all if he’s somehow retained after the Colts go through the full interviewing process.
The Colts actually sport an above-average defense. What's the best and most effective way to attack that D?
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The screen game has been an effective tool for opposing offenses. Attacking cornerback Brandon Facyson also leads to some explosive plays.
Despite having a strong interior with DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, who are having Pro-Bowl caliber seasons, the Giants will find success running to the edge, especially to Yannick Ngakoue’s side.
They are pretty solid on third-down (seventh-lowest conversion rate), but they struggle mightily in the red zone (third-highest conversion rate). It should match-up well with the Giants’ offense considering how successful they’ve been in the red zone this season.
What went into Indy's decision to start Nick Foles over Matt Ryan (and Sam Ehlinger), and what do you expect from him in Week 17?
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The early-season struggles for Matt Ryan compounded mostly due to the poor play of the offensive line. He started seeing ghosts in the pocket, failing to trust his pass protection and began forcing throws into non-existent windows. His lack of arm strength also has become apparent.
The problem is that Nick Foles isn’t much better. He saw his first starting reps in practice last week, and it’s clear he doesn’t have a rapport with any of the receivers.
The Giants’ defense will have their opportunities for turnovers, and Wink Martindale should be salivating at the chance of throwing some exotic blitzes the Colts’ way.
Who are some under-the-radar Colts that the Giants and their fans should be wary of?
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Defensive tackle Grover Stewart is always my answer to this. He’s a one-technique with the power of a nose tackle and the explosiveness/nimbleness of a three-technique. He’s an absolute mauler and even when he’s not directly producing run stops, he’s plugging gaps and forcing runners to bounce.
Offensively, rookie tight end Jelani Woods has been electric every time he touches the ball. It’s baffling that he hasn’t seen more playing time. At 6-foot-7 and 253 pounds, Woods ran a 4.61 at the combine. He’s put that on display every time he touches the ball and with starting tight end Kylen Granson out, we should see more of the rookie.
How can the Colts and their struggling OL combat Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Wink Martindale's blitz-happy defense?
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At this point, there’s nothing they can do. The breakdowns in communication and technique are prevalent even when defenses run simple stunts.
Considering the blitz-happy nature of Wink Martindale’s defense, they should thrive. The other issue is that the Colts’ quarterbacks have an affinity for taking sacks. Foles is a statue behind the line of scrimmage and showed in Week 17 that he still holds the ball far too long in the pocket.
Of their seven sacks allowed last week, roughly five of them should be pinned on the quarterback. There’s a good chance we see career games from Thibs, Ojulari, and Dexter Lawrence.
How do you see this game playing out and who wins?
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The Giants are rightfully favored in this game. While their talent on paper may not be light years ahead of the Colts, they are far better coached and all-around tougher. They get better as the game progresses where the Colts have a -81 point differential in the fourth quarter under Jeff Saturday.
That said, the Giants love playing in one-score games, and this one could come down to a final drive. But I expect the Giants to win with the playoffs on the line as the Colts struggle to stop Saquon Barkley and Big Blue’s rushing attack.
Giants 23, Colts 17