Minnesota Vikings (1-4) at New York Giants (0-6) ★
Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
If there was ever a case for not watching a football game, then this may be it. Two really bad teams with a combined winning percentage of .091, two impotent defenses, and two underachieving teams that were mistaken for playoff contenders before the season began. The world wide leader will likely use this as a bargaining chip next year when negotiating for better games on their schedule as it counteracts any advantage there may have been from having a captive audience.
The feeble Viking defense is allowing 31.6 points per game (30th); 418 yards per game (31st); 308 passing yards per game (29th); 25.2 first downs per game (31st); 49.3% third down conversions (31st); 3.0 red zone touchdowns per game (32nd); and now they will be without one of their few decent players, safety Harrison Smith (toe).
The one thing in Minnesota’s favor is that they are facing a Giants team that is gifting opponents at an unprecedented pace, having turned the ball over an amazing 23 times already this season. Once that happens the Giants olé defense acquiesces: New York ranks last in points allowed (34.8), third downs converted (7.3 per game), and in sacks (5).
Josh Freeman should be very thankful he was given such a soft defense to play against in his first game as a Viking – and you have to feel bad for Matt Cassel, for not getting a chance to start against the G-Men. Even though the season is not yet half over, Freeman becomes the third starting quarterback for Minnesota. Cassel did lead the Vikings to their only win of the season, but last week the Viking offense did not reach the end zone until late in the 4th quarter. Cassel did complete 32 out of 44 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown against Carolina, but he also threw two interceptions. Regardless of how he performed, it was just a matter of time before he was replaced; the Vikings did not bring Freeman in to sit on the bench.
With Freeman still learning the system Minnesota will likely lean heavily on RB Adrian Peterson, and the Giants will likely respond with eight in the box. Peterson is 4th in the league in rushing and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Giants have been very vulnerable to short passes, slants and in cuts that get to the receiver before the pass rush can get to the quarterback. That however requires good timing, something Freeman (who was never that great on short passes to begin with) has yet to develop in such a short time with his new team.
Pick • Vikings 30, Giants 21
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