Quarterback Andrew Luck. Wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks. Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson. The Indianapolis Colts possess an embarrassment of riches at the offensive skill positions.
How is the New York Giants' defense going to deal with all of them on Monday when the 3-4 Giants host the 5-3 Colts at MetLife Stadium? That's a heckuva good question.
The Colts lead the league in yards per game (452.2), are second in points per game (31.2), first in average time of possession (34:51) and first in passing yards per game (336.5). Indianapolis is fourth in the league in yards per play, averaging 6.1. They average 4.0 yards per carry rushing the ball. The Colts can pretty much do everything on offense.
Luck has passed for 2,731 yards in eight games. Indianapolis has eight receivers with 18 or more catches, led by Hilton with 53.
"I don't even know if you can pick one thing right now at this point. The man [Luck] can throw the ball. He's amazing with throwing the ball. He has great accuracy and he obviously can run, so you kind of have to pick your poison with him at some point with him," said Giants linebacker Jameel McClain. "When you're going against one of these quarterbacks, I say it every week and I say it week in and week out, you have to be able to count on all 11 men on the field and know everybody knows where they're supposed to be because one small crack and this guy, he can throw the ball between two defenders and make it look easy."
In head coach Tom Coughlin's words, the Colts are "not easy" to defend.
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"They do have a lot of weapons. They have the outstanding young quarterback. They have the combination where they run the ball. They’ve got the two tight ends working very, very well, the two runners working well. They’ve gone ahead in (Donte) Moncrief, they’ve demonstrated some confidence in another young player. T.Y. Hilton is playing very well. You do have the Reggie Wayne influence on their team, which is very obvious to see. You’ve already mentioned having Hakeem (Nicks) as an addition to that as well," Coughlin said. "They’re playing well, they’re well-balanced. They utilize any number of personnel combinations and they do a good job with it, and their quarterback is very, very good."
So, what can the Giants do?
First, the Giants could really use a healthy Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Will they get one? Rodgers-Cromartie did practice on Monday, but head coach Tom Coughlin sounded uncertain about what they Giants could expect from their top cornerback.
"He was out there. Last week we were encouraged because of the number of treatments that he got. We'll have to see," Coughlin said. "I thought there was [improvement]. He did some plays and took some plays where he didn't work. I think it's a little better than it was, but whether or not it's ready to be where we would want it to be, I don't know."
Matching up with Hilton in the slot is also a concern. Without injured Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride the Giants started Jayron Hosley in the slot against the Dallas Cowboys and also used a three-safety look with Quintin Demps in the slot.
It will be interesting, in fact, to see how the Giants use their personnel all the way around. Jon Beason is out for the remainder of the season, and Cullen Jenkins appears to be out for a while with a calf strain. Those injuries should open snaps for linebacker Devon Kennard and young defensive linemen Demontre Moore and Jay Bromley.
The Colts have managed to run the ball for 115.2 yards per game despite passing the ball 65.8 percent of the time this season. The Giants have had back-to-back weeks where they failed to stop the run, giving up 149 yards to LeSean McCoy and 128 to DeMarco Murray. The Giants can't allow Bradshaw or Richardson to have that type of game.
If the Giants can stop the Indianapolis running game, perhaps they can put themselves in situations where they can pressure Luck. Not an easy task, but that seems like the best plan of attack.