The Indianapolis Colts find themselves in the thick of the playoff race as they get set to host the New York Giants in Week 16. Kick off is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 23, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
The Colts have opened the week favored by 9.5 points at home. The over/under for the game is listed at 46.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
The Colts were arguably the most impressive team in the NFL last week, dismantling the Cowboys 23-0. With seven wins in their last eight games, Indy’s 1-5 start to the season is a distant memory. They are now 8-6 and part of a three-way tie with the Ravens and Titans for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
However, Indy’s path to the playoffs is a little complicated. Baltimore currently holds the tiebreaker among the three 8-6 teams. That means the Colts need to finish one game better than Baltimore in the final standings, so they’ll need some help. The Colts also wrap up the regular season by playing at Tennessee next week, which won’t be easy. Of course, next week’s game may not matter if the Colts don’t take care of business against the Giants this week.
New York, on the other hand, was arguably the most disappointing team in the NFL last week. New York suffered a 17-0 home defeat at the hands of the Titans, doing the Colts no favors in the wild-card chase. Prior to that loss, the Giants were mathematically alive for a playoff spot and had won four of their last five games. But they appeared to resort to their old ways against the Titans.
Despite being out of the playoff race, the Giants say that Eli Manning will remain the starting quarterback. In many ways, the G-Men have already started to look ahead toward next season. However, head coach Pat Shurmur will keep Manning on the field and try to win, knowing that the game has meaning for Indianapolis.
After the whooping the Colts gave the Cowboys last week, I’d be foolish to bet against them. Admittedly, this is a lot of points, to cover. However, five of Indy’s eight wins this year have come by double digits. If the Colts were on the road, I might hesitate to swallow this many points. But with the playoffs on the line and the home crowd behind them, I’ll eat the points and pick Indianapolis to cover.
I know the Giants won four of their last five before last week, but they didn’t beat any quality teams during that stretch outside of the Bears, who were playing their backup quarterback. More importantly, the New York offense was exposed in a big way last week. The Giants had been winning on the back of Saquon Barkley. But the Tennessee defense did everything in their power to bottle him up, holding the rookie to 31 yards on 14 carries and just 25 yards on four catches. When Barkley was stopped, the Giants were stopped.
The Colts are more than capable of replicating a similar game plan against the Giants this week. The Indy defense is giving up just 3.9 yards per carry on the ground this season. They’ve also managed to limit other strong rushing teams the past few weeks, so I think the Colts can keep Barkley contained.
Once that happens, Manning will be forced to throw, and that’s when New York usually has problems. The Giants have given up the fourth most sacks in the NFL this season. Meanwhile, the Colts have a suddenly fearful pass rush, accumulating 11 sacks in their last three games. Denico Autry has become the breakout star of that defense, taking credit for six of those nine sacks.
This could end up being another game in which Manning is under constant pressure. To make matters worse, there’s no guarantee that Odell Beckham Jr. will be healthy enough to play. The Giants are “hopeful” that he’ll be ready. However, Beckham may not make a huge difference if he does play given the way the Indianapolis defense shut down Amari Cooper last week.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts have a much more balanced offensive attack than people realize. Running back Marlon Mack had a star performance against a solid Dallas defense last week, running for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. They didn’t even need Andrew Luck to do that much, which is a great sign for the Colts moving forward.
That shutout loss to Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago looks more and more like an aberration. If you take away that performance, the Colts are averaging 31 points per game over their last seven games. Meanwhile, the Giants were shredded by Derrick Henry on the ground last week, which bodes well for Mack and the Colts last week. Outside of the Mark Sanchez-led Redskins a couple of weeks ago, the New York defense hasn’t stopped too many teams this year. I don’t see them providing much resistance against Luck and the Colts this week.
Again, eating this many points in an NFL game is nothing to do lightly. But this situation warrants taking that chance. Remember, the Colts have won seven of their last eight games. To me, the Colts turning this game into a runaway feels more likely than the Giants putting up a fight for four quarters. I like my chances with the Colts winning by double digits and covering.