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Friday, September 17, 2010
Giants/Colts WR/CB matchup reviews

By KC Joyner

This game may be referred to most commonly as Manning Bowl II, but the success or failure of either of Archie's sons will likely be determined by the winner of each of the wide receiver/cornerback matchups in this game.

Let's take a look at each to see who has the edge in each matchup:

Steve Smith vs. Kelvin Hayden: Smith is known mostly for his short-pass skills, but his 10.6 vertical pass yards per attempt (YPA) total last season was a very solid mark. It ranked 42nd in the league, or just above the halfway line of the 88 wide receivers who saw enough targets to be considered qualifiers.

He should get ample opportunity to utilize those skills since Hayden's biggest weakness is the long pass. His 12.4 YPA on vertical passes (defined as aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) ranked 85th in the league last season. Hayden was also charged with a 53-yard pass interference penalty against the Texans, so it looks as if he still hasn't shored up that part of his game.

Hakeem Nicks vs. Jerraud Powers: Nicks did a superb job on vertical passes this past week, but stopping downfield throws is one of Powers' specialties. He allowed only three completions in 14 vertical throws against him in 2009. The only vertical pass directed at him last week was intercepted. This may be a case where even if Nicks does play through his injury, he best value might be as a decoy.

Pierre Garcon vs. Terrell Thomas: Garcon is a downfield threat first and foremost, but the numbers say Thomas should be up to the task of keeping him in check. He gave up only 4.7 vertical YPA last year, a total that was the fifth best in the league.

Reggie Wayne vs. Corey Webster: Webster is the most lauded of the Giants corners, but his vertical totals were actually worse than Thomas' last season (7.5 YPA). He also was in coverage on three vertical passes against the Panthers and two of those ended up in completions totaling forty yards. Webster will need to play up to his reputation level in this game.

Austin Collie vs. Bruce Johnson/Aaron Ross: The bad news for New York here is that both Johnson and Ross are battling injuries. The good news is that as good as Collie is, he is by and large a short-pass catcher. Ten of the 11 aerials thrown his way last week were at the short depth level (defined as 10 or less yards downfield). Collie did take the only deep ball directed his way 73 yards to a touchdown, but this matchup will be defined more by how well Johnson and/or Ross can force dink-and-dunk pass incompletions.