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Colts stand in way of Giants’ first playoff berth since ’16

Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) hands off to running back Saquon Barkley (26) against the Washington Commanders during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants can lock up their first playoff berth since 2016 when they host the rudderless Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

There are seven scenarios in which New York (8-6-1) qualifies for the NFC playoff field in Week 17, but the simplest path is to beat the Colts (4-10-1), losers of five straight.

First-year coach Brian Daboll, who has garnered Coach of the Year discussion at points this season, will do what he can to keep his team focused on what it can control.

“We’re not in it yet,” Daboll said. “I’m not going to look too far down the road, and we’re going to try to beat the Colts. And that’s where I’m at with it.”

After a hot start to the season, the Giants are just 1-4-1 in their past six games. They lost 27-24 to the Minnesota Vikings last Saturday on Greg Joseph’s game-winning 61-yard field goal.

Daniel Jones completed 30 of 42 passes for 334 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Saquon Barkley guided the rushing attack with 84 yards (6.0 per carry) and a touchdown. Barkley’s 27-yard score and a two-point conversion pass caught by Daniel Bellinger tied the game at 24-24 with 2:01 left before Minnesota’s game-winning drive.

Jones has the NFL’s lowest interception rate among qualifying passers at 1.1 percent (five picks in 448 attempts). He’s 10th in completion percentage (66.5) but 24th in yards per attempt (6.8).

Richie James has led New York’s depleted receiving corps in each of the past three games. James has tallied 19 receptions for 193 yards and a touchdown in that span.

The Colts pulled out a 25-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Jeff Saturday’s debut as interim head coach on Nov. 13, but they haven’t won since. Ever since taking a 33-0 halftime lead at Minnesota two weeks ago, the Colts have been outscored 59-6 in the next six quarters plus overtime.

Indianapolis has benched quarterback Matt Ryan for the second time this season — first in favor of Sam Ehlinger, now for journeyman and one-time Super Bowl winner Nick Foles. In Monday’s 20-3 defeat against the Los Angeles Chargers, Foles tossed three picks, was sacked seven times and gained just 143 yards, but the Colts plan to stick with him as their starter the rest of the season.

Dysfunctional as the team has appeared, the Colts are trying to hunker down and play with pride over their last two games.

“We’re in the NFL. Everyone wants to finish well and do it the right way,” Foles said. “Finish strong. Obviously, we’re not playing for the postseason right now, but everyone here, this is their career. This is something they grew up wanting to do and we have an opportunity to be in the NFL as players and as coaches.”

Colts wide receiver Ashton Dulin did not practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion on a hit to the head that got Chargers safety Derwin James ejected. Also missing practice were tight end Kylen Granson (ankle) and cornerback Kenny Moore II (ankle).

The Giants placed guard Shane Lemieux (toe) on injured reserve. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck), linebacker Azeez Ojulari (ankle) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) were limited in practice Wednesday.

–Field Level Media