I bet when the NFL schedule makers made this game that they weren’t anticipating the Vikings and the Giants to have a combined record of 1-11. Both teams have looked downright awful at times, showing the rare flash of brilliance on an occasional big offensive play. Well something will have to give on Monday, as the Giants will be looking to get into the win column, while the Vikings hope that new QB Josh Freeman could be the key to turning their season around.
It’s not the best time to be a Giants fan. Around this time last season, the Giants were flying high at 6-2, on their way to defending their Super Bowl title in January. However, they ended the season 3-5, making them 3-11 in their last 14 regular season games. If there is a shred of positive thought for New York fans, it’s their team at least staying in the game the last two weeks, having a chance to win in Chicago last week before Eli Manning threw another costly interception to seal a Bears win.
Just like the Giants, the Vikings have yet to win a game on American soil. Their lone win was a 34-27 victory over Pittsburgh in London late last month. Minnesota is fresh off an embarrassing 35-10 beatdown at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, a team who hasn’t blown out too many teams in recent years. This is a team looking for a leader, and they hope that Josh Freeman is that guy.
Vikings Struggle on Road
It’s not too often that you see a winless team this far into the season as favorites, but you have that this week with the Giants sitting as 3.5 point home favorites. In their last 20 road games as underdogs, Minnesota is just 6-14 straight up, faring a bit better against the spread, going 9-10-1. On the flip side, the G-Men are 14-6 in their last 20 home games where they are the favorite, though they are a disappointing 8-11-1 ATS in that time.
As is usually the case with the Giants, Eli Manning, and his ability to protect the ball, will be the key for New York this week. Manning leads the NFL in Interceptions thrown with 15, a stat that he knows plenty about leading. It’s pretty simple for New York: If Eli can control the ball, they win. If not, they lose, hence the route of their 0-6 record.
The Vikings defense would seem to be a good defense for Eli to get back on track against. The Vikes are 29th in the league against the pass, giving up 308 yards a game, and they’ve only picked the ball off seven times so far this year. They will have to pad that number if they want to win this week.
Josh Freeman the Key?
In a matchup of bottom feeders, there aren’t a ton of storylines to hang your hat on. In this case, the premiere of Josh Freeman in Viking purple is the biggest one. Many predicted that Freeman would lose his starting job in Tampa by the end of the year, but I don’t think many saw him losing it this early, and more importantly, being on a new team so early. Well Adrian Peterson showed how much his opinion matters, as he lobbied to get Freeman on the team. Freeman provides experience and the big play ability that Christian Ponder was lacking in his years in Minnesota. It’s unrealistic to expect Freeman to play lights out on Monday, but I do think that overall he will be a great fit in Minnesota.
In case you couldn’t tell, I haven’t made a compelling argument for either side, and that is because this game could go any number of ways. Both of these teams are playing rather terribly, and have no sense of direction for righting the ship. At this point, the proverbial tiebreakers for me are the Giants night game experiences, and the fact that it’s in New Jersey. I like the Giants to win, but I don’t love it. What I do love is the under 47 points. While neither of these defenses will shutout their opponents, the respective offenses are just terrible. There is little to no chance that either team breaks 30, as I see both teams hanging around in the teens most the time. I like the Giants to get their first win of the season in an ugly 24-14 win that will likely be the least forgettable Monday Night Football game on the year.