THE SCOUTING REPORT: GIANTS vs. COLTS
WHAT: Giants (1-0) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
WHEN: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium
SERIES RECORD: The are 6-7 against the Colts in the regular season and 0-2 in the postseason.
LAST MEETING: Sept. 10, 2006. Manning Bowl I became the first game in which two brothers quarterbacked opposing teams, and Peyton Manning won the regular season-opening matchup 26-21. Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes and an interception, while Peyton threw for one touchdown and an interception. The rest of the team didn't do as well, as the Colts scored on their first four possessions and then turned two second-half takeaways into 10 points. The now-departed Marvin Harrison caught nine passes for 113 yards in that one, while the Giants rushed for 186 yards on 28 carries.
INJURIES: Giants – T Will Beatty (knee), TE Kevin Boss (concussion), LB Phillip Dillard (hamstring), and LB Chase Blackburn (knee) are out. WR Hakeem Nicks (ankle) and DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) are questionable. CB Bruce Johnson (knee), CB Aaron Ross (foot), C Shaun O'Hara (ankle and Achilles), and LB Gerris Wilkinson (groin) are probable.
Colts – S Bob Sanders (knee) and WR Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) are out. LB Gary Brackett (neck), T Ryan Diem (neck), LB Ramon Humber (illness), T Charlie Johnson (foot), DB Jacob Lacey (head), DL Robert Mathis (ankle), and LB Clint Session (hamstring) are questionable. LB Cody Glenn (hamstring), DB Jarraud Powers (foot), and C Jeff Saturday (knee) are probable.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL WIN: The best defense against the Colts is not necessarily the best offense, though that's the overriding opinion in dealing with Peyton Manning. The thing about Manning is that no matter what kind of running game an opponent puts up, no matter how much that opponent eats the clock, Manning can come back at you in a flash. So the best defense is really to put Eli's big brother on his rear end and get him to move out of the pocket. The Giants have taken great pains to study Manning's varied foibles at the line of scrimmage – the audibles and dummy calls he uses in the Colts' version of the no-huddle – so they'll be ready. Look for the defensive line to be coming hard, with frequent blitzes thrown in. If they get to Manning at all – he's got one of the quickest releases in the league – the Giants will increase their chances greatly. LB Michael Boley will have to at least minimize the damage of pass-catching tight end Dallas Clark (11 catches, 80 yards, one TD) in the key matchup of this game. You might see Boley and either Antrel Rolle or Kenny Phillips doubling Clark, while still-aching Aaron Ross and starting cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster try to keep Reggie Wayne (7-99-1), Austin Collie (11-163-1) and Pierre Garcon contained. Offensively, the Giants will need to get off to as fast a start as Houston did last week. Ahmad Bradshaw will once again carry the rushing load, but Brandon Jacobs actually had as good or better a game than Bradshaw against the Panthers last week. The offensive line needs to be more physical in the early running game to get that established, so pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis don't have their way. At least they won't have to worry about run-stopping strong safety Bob Sanders, who is out. Because of Peyton Manning's explosiveness, every point will be important here. So Lawrence Tynes must be on his game.
WHY THE GIANTS WILL LOSE: Peyton Manning's receivers are a given, but shifty running back Joseph Addai could be the key here. He's going to run a lot more than the 10 carries he had against the Texans, and God help the Giants if that ground game ever gets established. That would enable to the Colts not only to take advantage of Manning's uncanny passing accuracy, but eat the clock as well. Houston got way out ahead on the Colts last week, and even then Manning staged a strong comeback in the second half. If Clark can't be handled, it might be all over early. If Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has to sit with that bad ankle, the Giants will lose a big-play element they'll need in this one. But at least steady Steve Smith will be out there as a third-down go-to guy. Also, with Chase Blackburn out, a kick coverage team that looked shaky enough with him last week takes a major hit. If the Colts start their drives beyond the 35, the Giants may have no chance at all, for Manning is a master of the short field. If it's close at all in the fourth quarter, put your money on the Colts, as Manning led his team to an NFL record seven comeback wins last season. Kicker Adam Vinatieri has been around forever, and he's still accurate.
PREDICTION: The worst thing to happen to the Giants last week was the Houston Texans. The Colts will go into this game good and angry, certainly fighting like mad to avoid an 0-2 start. Their offense is too strong, and the Giants, with Nicks nicked up, will lose some of their scoring potential. Unless Mario Manningham can continue on the upswing after a good opening day, the Giants will need to look elsewhere for explosiveness. It'll be close, but the Colts win a good one, 30-27.