Each season, the NFL seems to enforce new rules, as well as emphasize old ones, in order to benefit offenses and increase scoring. With 2014 being no different, the Indianapolis Colts have taken full advantage, using their star quarterback to become a top contender in the conference.
Through eight games, the Colts rank first in total offense and second in the league with 31.3 points per game. In Week 9, Indianapolis looks to increase its lead in the AFC South when the team’s high-powered offense visits the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football.”
Andrew Luck made the Pro Bowl in his first two NFL seasons, but he’s taken a significant leap in year No.3. He’s putting up historical numbers, and leading an offense that’s been as consistent as any that’s not led by Peyton Manning.
Indianapolis hasn't scored less than 20 points in any game, and their worst offensive performance came in a win against the No.2 scoring defense. The Colts put up 24 points against Denver, who hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in regulation this season. On the road against Houston’s No.8 scoring defense, Luck and company put 33 points on the board.
Luck has achieved so much individual success that it’s hard to believe he won’t put up big numbers against the Giants. He’s thrown for fewer than 312 yards just once, and is tied for the league-lead with 22 touchdowns. His 2,731 passing yards halfway through the season have him on pace to finish just 15 yards behind the single-season mark that Manning set last season.
The Giants have had their share of difficulties against the passing game, ranking 25th in pass defense. In their most recent loss, the team allowed Tony Romo to post a 135.7 passer rating.
In order for New York to pull off the upset – they are three-point underdogs – the Giants must force Luck into making mistakes. For all the yards he’s thrown, the quarterback hasn’t been averse to throwing interceptions, ranking third with nine picks on the season. New York could find success in their attempt, as they lead the NFC with 11 interceptions.
Even if Luck makes a few key mistakes, the Colts will find a way to get into the end zone three or four times. A New York victory would most likely have to come in a shootout. The over/under of 50.5 points is the second-most on the Week 9 schedule.
The Giants have shown the ability to put up points of their own, scoring at least 30 points in all of their wins. Considering Eli Manning is without his top weapons, though, it will be difficult for New York to keep pace will Indianapolis.
Victor Cruz, the team’s top receiver, is done for the year with an injury. Rashad Jennings, New York’s top running back, hasn’t played during the team’s two-game losing streak and won't return on Monday.
Despite allowing 51 points in last week’s loss, the Colts have had their share of strong defensive performances. Indianapolis has held opponents to 17 points or fewer in four of their last six games, including a shutout against the Cincinnati Bengals.
PREDICTION: Indianapolis over New York, 31-24