- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Putting the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants on the same field is no longer the Manning Bowl.

For the Giants, the prospect of the playing the Colts isn’t any easier with Eli’s big brother, Peyton, in Denver. The job now involves finding a way to slow down Andrew Luck.

The Colts (5-3) and Luck will face the Giants (3-4) at MetLife Stadium on Monday night with both teams looking to rebound.

Indianapolis is coming off a 51-34 loss to Pittsburgh, while the Giants are returning from a bye week seeking to snap a two-game losing streak that featured one-sided losses to NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas.

It’s time for both teams to start jelling with the stretch run on tap.

“This is exciting,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “We have a good opportunity ahead of us. The way we have played to start the year, we have made it tough on ourselves, but we have to get hot. All we can do is worry about this next game. We have to handle our business and start playing at a higher level. “

The Giants need to that on both sides of the ball if they expect to get past the Colts, who have the NFL’s top-ranked offense and the No. 1 rated passing game with Luck at quarterback

New York has been outscored 58-21 in its last two games as the offense failed to make big plays and the defense has not stopped the run.

Before the loss to the Steelers, and Luck and the Colts made big plays on both sides of the ball in winning five straight games.

Luck has been outstanding. He set a team record last weekend, throwing for at least 300 yards in his sixth straight game, breaking Peyton Manning’s mark.

“He has a great competitive fire about him,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of his ‘humble’ quarterback. “He loves winning. He is not afraid of hard work. We all know the talent you can see on tape. He is big and strong. He is athletic and obviously a very bright guy. His intangibles are off the charts. “

The question remains can Eli Manning and the Giants’ new West Coast offense put up points against a suddenly suspect Indy defense. New York will not have No. 1 halfback Rashad Jennings (knee) and it is still looking to prove it can overcome the loss of explosive receiver Victor Cruz for the season with another knee injury.

The bottom line is the Giants are facing missing the playoffs for the third straight year with nine games to go in the regular season.

“It’s your guys’ job to panic, and you guys do that very well,” Giants veteran defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said to reporters. “For us, there’s parity in the league, you can talk about all of those things, injuries or whatever. The fact remains that we have a lot of games left on the schedule, we’ve got championship caliber talent in here, I still believe that 100 percent, so we go out, we work, we put wins together and all of a sudden the perception changes. “

Some things to watch in this half-Manning Bowl:

GIANTS DBs: Starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been bothered by back and hamstring injuries in recent weeks. It remains to be seen if the bye week helped him get healthy. If he is still limited, the Giants are really in trouble. Zack Bowman would get more playing time and it might even force the defense to use Mike Harris, signed off the Lions’ practice squad this week.

COLTS’ DEFENSE: A week after shutting out Cincinnati, Indianapolis allowed Pittsburgh 51 points and the Steelers had 639 yards in total offense. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns, both franchise records. Indianapolis’ pressure defense failed to register a sack after getting 20 in the previous five-game winning streak.

BACK TO THE MEADOWLANDS: Colts halfback Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Hakeem Nicks were drafted by the Giants and spent a combined 11 seasons with the team. Both were members of the Super Bowl championship team in February 2012. Bradshaw joined the Colts last season, while Nicks was signed this year.

FUTURE GAMES: Indianapolis has a game lead over Houston in the AFC South heading into the weekend. The Texans are home against Philadelphia (5-2). A Colts win would at least maintain the lead going into a bye week and give them breathing room heading into a game against New England. The Giants have Seattle, San Francisco and Dallas on tap after the Colts.

HILTON WATCH: Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton leads the NFL with 866 yards receiving, a 16.3-yard average. His 53 catches are a team high, 15 more than Reggie Wayne. The Giants’ leading receiver is Rueben Randle, who has 34 catches for 321 yards, a 9.4-yard average. Giants general manager Jerry Reese complained about the team’s lack of big plays on offense this season.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFLx

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