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Giants vs. Colts 2014: Matching up the special teams

Can the Giants get some explosive plays from their special teams this week?

Michael Cox
Michael Cox
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

During the course of an animated press conference on Thursday, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin practically begged for some help from the Giants special teams.

"We’ve got a chance to get something done on special teams, let’s do that," Coughlin said. "Let’s give ourselves a little boost there. Let’s get some field position by punt return or kickoff return."

It is no secret that the Giants have struggled on special teams this season, particularly in the areas of their own punt team and in returning both kickoffs and punts. Coughlin was encouraged, however, by the work of Odell Beckham Jr. returning punts and Michael Cox returning kickoffs in the Week 7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

"I think there is a chance that our return game will be better once we return from the bye week," Coughlin said after the Dallas game. "I think Odell Beckham Jr. who averaged 10.5 yards on punt returns and Michael Cox who had a 40-yard kickoff return. It has been a while since we’ve seen something of that nature."

There has, of course, been much gnashing of teeth over the past week in regards to the lack of big plays being generated by the Giants. Coughlin, Jerry Reese and Eli Manning have all addressed the topic, and it is certain that it will be at the forefront of the questioning when offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo meets the media Friday afternoon.

Special teams, though, has to be part of that big play equation. Big plays by special teams can either change the scoreboard directly, or put the Giants' defensive and offensive units in better field position to do that.

The Giants are 30th in the league in punt returns, averaging 6.6 yards. They hope Beckham will help change that. They are 22nd in the league with an average 22.7 yards on kickoff returns. Cox, however, has averaged 28.0 yards on five returns since taking over that role in Week 6.

Indianapolis averages 7.1 yards on punt returns, but will challenge the Giants on kickoff returns. The Colts average 26.3 yards there, fifth in the league. Griff Whalen is the Colts' primary return man.

Colts' field goal kicker Adam Vinatieri is one of the best in the business and is 16-for-16 this season on field-goal attempts. Punter Pat McAfee is averaging a league-best 44.9 net yards per punt.

Giants' placekicker Josh Brown is 7-for-7 on field-goal attempts. Punter Steve Weatherford averages 45.4 yards per punt, with a net of 38.4.