In what many are calling the most lackluster Monday Night Football matchup of the year, the sleeping New York Giants will face an almost equally inept team in the Minnesota Vikings who will come in to MetLife Stadium with one more win than the 0-6 Giants. By the end of Monday night, the Giants will hope to finally have their first win of the season under their belt.
In order to do so, defensively, the Giants the must limit Adrian Peterson’s first and second down yardage, as he is the pulse of the Vikings offense averaging over 95 yards per game (second in the NFL).
In each of the past three weeks, the Giants have faced a Pro Bowl running back and have held the likes of Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte, to just 67 yards or fewer on the ground. If the Giants' front seven can continue the trend to four straight weeks against another Pro Bowler, it would make life only that much more difficult for the Viking’s newly acquired quarterback, Josh Freeman.
The Giants’ best bet of picking up their first win of the season would be to make Freeman, who will most likely be utilizing a simplified version of what is already a rather basic playbook, defeat them through the air. Despite the secondary’s struggles in the past few weeks, the matchup on Monday night is much more favorable for Big Blue considering the return of Corey Webster and the overall rest and preparation time the team has had; as they will have had eleven days between last weeks Thursday night game and the upcoming Monday night match.
Though the Vikings do have some talented receivers in the veteran Greg Jennings, the speedy young rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, the athletic Jerome Simpson, and a sure handed tight end in Kyle Rudolph, they have all yet to prove any in-game chemistry with Josh Freeman. Look for some miscues, maybe even an interception or two if the Vikings are forced to pass due to a struggling run game, or if the Giants score early and often.
Offensively the Giants matchup better with the Vikings secondary than they do against Minnesota’s front seven. Despite being ranked 31st overall in total defense, the Vikings have more playmakers in the front than they do in the back end of their defense where the secondary is battered with injuries. If the Giants can protect Eli Manning, expect him to carry the team to victory with his arm against a banged up Vikings defense that will be without linebacker Desmond Bishop. Promising young safety Harrison Smith is battling indications of turf toe, and cornerback A.J Jefferson is doubtful with an ankle injury. Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes is also battling an ankle injury but is probable for Monday night.
The Vikings defense will aim to limit Brandon Jacobs’ productivity on the ground to set up the Giants for third and long passing situations where the likes of Jared Allen and Kevin Williams can put pressure on Eli and force him into further interceptions. Every defense that plays the Giants is very well aware that Eli is not shy about throwing the ball up for grabs, thus it wouldn’t be too preposterous to assume that most defensive backs actually look forward to the opportunity to face Eli knowing that they will be provided opportunities to pad their stats. However, during a week in which Eli surely has heard the comments about certain fans wanting him benched, expect Eli to be… well… Eli. In the face of adversity and pressure, Eli usually comes out cooler than the other side of the pillow. If the Giants can give Eli even average protection, the offense should be able to put plenty of points on the board.
Though if the Giants manage to lose this particular matchup, well then there may very well be a serious debate as to who should hold the title for worst team in the NFL between New York and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants however are favorites to finally win this week at home and it’s entirely possible they put up 35+ points in this game and maybe, just maybe, look a little like the Giants team most fans expected to see this season. It would indeed be pleasant sight, even if it were for just one game.
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