Monday is generally not a well liked day because it means the weekend is over and its time to go back to work or school. However, there is one good thing about the day and that’s Monday Night Football. Now I know what your thinking, how excited can you get about this Monday Night Football game seeing that the game is between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. However, I would advise you not to be so quick to assume this game will be horrible. While the Vikings may have an unimpressive 1-6 record and Giants may not even have a win yet this season, that’s what makes this a potential good game.
Let’s not forget that despite their records both Vikings and Giants have continued to be competitive teams, they just struggle to close out games and not turn the ball over. Another reason to be excited about this game, is quarterback Josh Freeman, this will be the first time we see him on the field since being signed by the Vikings and I don’t know about you but I am very eager to see what he brings to the table.
Offensive Keys for the Vikings
When it comes the Vikings, they are a talented offense even if they don’t always show it. Most experts believe if they had a consistent quarterback to count on the Viking offense would perform better and I believe Freeman has the potential to be that guy. What I expect to see from Freeman in this game is a solid performance mainly because he is still getting comfortable within the Viking offense. I think for him to succeed, he must first receive consistent blocking from the offensive line. Freeman has a tendency to be inaccurate at times and make horrible decisions specifically when pressured, so again the offensive line should be prepared to do their part.
I also look to see how the receiving core will perform in the game, wide receiver Greg Jennings has yet to live up to the contract he claimed he deserved. I also think it’s time for the Vikings to expand wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson’s role. Although the Giants defense has struggled this season, keep in mind they still have some nice defensive pieces to watch out for, mainly safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Prince Amukamara. Now I know Rolle has under-performed this year but he will have chances to make plays seeing that Freeman is a fan of the deep ball. Then with Amukamara he is the more talented player in the Giants secondary so the Vikings will have to be aware of him as well.
Finally the Vikings offense must come into this game balance which will definitely help Freeman’s transition. So I expect to see the Vikings run the ball a lot with running back Adrian Peterson and I think they would be smart to run the ball early with him. Giants defense allows 123 rushing yards per game so as long as Peterson is focused, he should be able to get going and have some big plays against the Giants run defense. Plus as I said before, running the ball will open passing opportunities for Freeman and his receiving core.
Defensive Keys for Vikings
For Minnesota it all starts with forcing the Giants to continue their current trend which is turnovers and to cause those turnovers, they must start with pressuring quarterback Eli Manning. Giants offensive line has been horrible this season allowing Manning to be sacked 16 times in only six game, so if the Viking front four can get to Manning consistently in this game, they have a good chance of causing some turnovers.
However, if the Vikings are not able to force turnovers, Vikings secondary better be ready to play because let’s not forget Eli Manning is still a capable quarterback with capable receivers by the name of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Ruben Randle. Considering Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson has been burn all season long and cornerback Xavier Rhodes is banged up with an ankle injury, Vikings secondary better be ready to step up and play.
Vikings defense also needs to limit big plays by the Giants offense, one of the reasons the Vikings have struggled this season is for the inability to limit the big play and stop teams on third down. Now it’s no secret that the Vikings defense is bad but they seriously have issues stopping teams on third down and they can’t have that issue in this game, if they have any chance of turning their season around it starts on defense.
Offensive Keys for Giants
The first key to the Giants offensive success is to not turn the ball over. To be honest, if they didn’t turn the ball over so much, they probably would have a win by now. The main turnovers they need to avoid are forced passes by quarterback Eli Manning, I know he has inconsistent offensive line and no run game but Manning is considered to be a veteran now, no need to keep forcing the ball, just so you attempt to make a play. So again if they avoid turnovers they should be in good shape.
When it comes to the passing game, Eli Manning must receiver some form of blocking from his offensive line, so he can have time in the pocket and time for plays to develop. I also think for Manning to have success, wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks must step up and take advantage of the Vikings inconsistent secondary. Hopefully their consistent play will open up things for wide receiver Ruben Randle as well. Finally the Giants must establish a run game. Now keep in mind the Giants running game doesn’t need to be explosive, they just need to offer balance and keep the Viking’s defense aware. Running back Brandon Jacobs has shown what he is capable of but since there is a possibility he won’t play tonight, I look forward to seeing what recently acquired running back Peyton Hillis will offer in this game. I expect Hillis to be somewhat similar to Jacobs, more so of a power runner with the strength to break through tackles.
Defensive Keys for Giants
Giants must initiate some type of pass rush and for that pass rush to be initiated, defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul must step up. From what I have seen from the film, they just don’t seem to be winning the individual battles, if they start to, they will be able to bring back the pass rush and hopefully rattle quarterback Josh Freeman. The next key is the linebackers, specifically Spencer Paysinger and Jon Beason. Now Paysinger has been the most consistent linebacker for the Vikings so far this season but I would really like to see Beason get going in this game. Beason had a solid performance last week against Chicago, however, I really look for him to step up in this game and help Paysinger with slowing down the Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Finally the secondary, as I said before, the key players to watch are safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Prince Amukamara, if they can keep this offense somewhat contained they will have done their job. I am also watching veteran cornerback Corey Webster, now he has been listed as probable for this game but assuming he plays, I would like to think he could help mend this secondary somewhat due to his experience and skill set.
I am about to surprise a lot of you but I am picking the Giants to win. I know what your thinking and trust me I am thinking it to but I would like to think that the Giants will make the right adjustments and at least limit the turnovers for one game. Plus I would like to think that the Giants have pride and have to be fed up with the fact they have allowed themselves to be 0-6. Nonetheless, I expect this to be a good game, despite both team’s horrible records and for those saying it will be a horrible game, remember if the game is horrible, you can just turn the channel.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com