Giants would clinch playoffs with win over skidding Colts
The New York Giants aren't treating the Indianapolis Colts like a team that has won four games all season and has lost eight of its last nine.
With a playoff berth a win away, one might think the Giants (8-6-1) would be salivating at the thought of playing one of the NFL's weakest teams at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
That's not Brian Daboll's style with the team's first playoff berth since 2016 within reach. The first-year Giants coach is taking nothing for granted, not even the Colts (4-10-1).
“The last six games, they’ve been up at the end of the third quarter," Daboll said. "They’re only down by two to Dallas, 21-19. That’s the NFL; every team’s good.”
The truth is the Giants haven't been world-beaters, either. They are 1-4-1 in their last six games, with the win a crucial one over Washington on Dec. 18. They played well in a last-second 27-24 loss to Minnesota last weekend.
“We are all aware what's at stake and what we can accomplish but you can't get lost in that,” running back Saquon Barkley said. “You have to keep focused on the main thing. I know the record doesn't say it but they are playing well.”
Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday is looking for wins and complete performances in the final two games. Even with his team on a five-game skid, said the Colts' defense has been making strides.
Indianapolis center Ryan Kelly said spoiling the Giants' playoff chances doesn't serve as motivation.
“I think every single guy knows the situation that we’re in," he said. “You have two games left and you’re not guaranteed anything in this league. This team has two games together left. After that, it will never look the same. We’ll go out there and give it our best.”
IF NOT A WIN
If the Giants lose or tie, they still have ways to secure a playoff spot this weekend. They could get there under various scenarios with help from some if not all of the other NFC wild-card contenders: Seattle, Washington, Detroit and Green Bay.
STILL THE ONE
The Colts made their third quarterback change of the season because they thought Nick Foles would make more plays down the field. Instead, he was intercepted three times and sacked a career-high seven times.
Foles finished 17 of 29 for 143 yards during Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, and for the fourth time this season, Indy failed to score a touchdown in a game. Saturday has said he plans to stick with Foles as the starter.
Just call the Giants receiving corps the group no one wanted. Darius Slayton (44 catches for 710 yards and 2 TDs) was a healthy inactive for the opener. Richie James (50 catches for 493 yards and three TDs) has been a kick returner most of the season. Isaiah Hodgins (29 catches for 309 yards and three TDs) was acquired on waivers from Buffalo on Nov. 2.
The Giants went into the season with a receiver group that featured Kenny Golladay (benched), Sterling Shepard (injured), Kadarius Toney (traded) and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson (hurt).
The Colts have struggled to close out games and have blown three fourth-quarter leads during their current losing streak, which includes the largest comeback in NFL history.
How bad has it been?
Indy has been outscored 62-0 in the final 15 minutes of the last three games and 90-9 in the fourth quarter since Saturday replaced the fired Frank Reich in early November.
One problem has been third-down conversions. Indy was 0 for 10 on third down on Monday night.
The Giants have decided to go with a rotation of Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates at left guard.
Gates, who missed almost all of last season with a broken leg, and Bredeson, who was on IR with a knee injury, both returned to the lineup recently. The coaching staff decided to have them split time to keep them fresh.