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Preview, predictions, what to watch for

An inside look at Sunday’s Giants-Colts Week 17 matchup at MetLife Stadium.

Marquee matchup

Colts DT DeForest Buckner vs. Giants interior OL

Pressure up the gut is always an issue, and the Giants are vulnerable in that area. Buckner is a savvy veteran, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound athlete with a proven track record from his four years with the 49ers and three with the Colts. He has 53 career sacks, including eight this season, to go along with 18 quarterback hits. Buckner had 1.5 sacks last week against the Chargers.

The starting guards, Mark Glowinski and Nick Gates (with Ben Bredeson probably getting the bulk of the snaps at left guard), and center Jon Feliciano have all been uneven in their performance — some good, some not so good. Lined up next to Buckner, nose tackle Grover Stewart has four sacks.

DeForest Buckner
DeForest Buckner
Mark Glowinski
Mark Glowinski

Paul’s pick

It is going to be unseasonably warm for this New Year’s Day game, and the Giants want to put the heat on an opponent eager to get to the finish line for this season. The defense is getting healthier, and the Colts, without injured stud running back Jonathan Taylor, do not present many scoring threats. Saquon Barkley seems due to bust a long one. This should be a day for the home team to ring in 2023 in style.

Giants 27, Colts 16

Four downs

New territory: No Giants player who will get in the game Sunday has ever been to the playoffs with the team. As much as this is all new for so many of them, there are plenty of players with college experience in big bowl games and huge rivalry games. Does it translate to the NFL and these win-and-in affairs?

“I would say the atmosphere would be similar, but I’ve never been to a playoff game, so I don’t know what the playoffs are like,’’ said left tackle Andrew Thomas, a three-year starter at Georgia. “I think it’s different. At Georgia, we played some teams that you have a week off playing smaller schools and stuff like that. In the NFL … every week, you’re going against the best in the world.’’

A look at the NFC wild-card picture ahead of the Giants' win-and-in game against the Colts.
A look at the NFC wild-card picture ahead of the Giants’ win-and-in game against the Colts.
NY Post illustration

New man in charge: Mark Glowinski spent five years with the Colts, and from time to time he spotted Jeff Saturday at the team facility. Why not? Saturday was Colts royalty from his 13 seasons as the starting center.

“It’s not like he was a big influence on anything, maybe years back when he was playing and stuff like that,’’ said Glowinski, the Giants’ starting right guard. When the Colts fired Frank Reich after a 3-5-1 start, team owner Jim Irsay shockingly installed Saturday — with no pro or college coaching experience — as the interim head coach. Saturday won his first game, but the Colts have since lost five straight.

“Yeah, it’s definitely a little bit different than you typically see,’’ Glowinski said of Saturday getting the job. “They say it’s what they needed to get their team going. We’ll see what happens.’’

Best and worst: Every coach will say it pretty much every week: Turnovers will decide this game. Sometimes that comes true. This game features the sturdiest and sloppiest teams in the league. The Giants are tied with the Lions for the fewest turnovers this season with 15 — the Giants have lost nine fumbles and have thrown six interceptions. The Colts are at the other end of the spectrum. Their 30 turnovers (13 lost fumbles, 17 interceptions) are the most in the NFL and their giveaway-takeaway rate of minus-13 is also 32nd in the league.

Foles out the barrel: Nick Foles last week made his second NFL start at quarterback since Week 10 of the 2020 season. To say he looked rusty does an injustice to all rusty athletes everywhere. He was dismal, completing 17 of 29 passes for 143 yards and three interceptions. He was sacked seven times as the Colts were buried by the Chargers, 20-3. What a strange career Foles has experienced before, during and after his improbable rise to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl triumph in franchise history after the 2017 season. His record as a starter is 29-28.

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