If the New York Giants are going to win a football game this season, this might be the time. The Giants don't have a lot going for them, but the Minnesota Vikings are in a very similar boat. New York has had 11 days to prepare for a home game against a team that is just as banged up and has won only a single game this season.
These teams have a lot in common. They've both, somehow, been crushed by the Carolina Panthers, and they're both facing dilemmas regarding aging offensive stars, as they try to salvage something in lost seasons.
But this is actually a really favorable home matchup, schematically, for the "G-Men." Can they take advantage and redeem themselves a small bit in front of another national audience Monday night? Here's our final preview of the matchup from New York's perspective, along with a prediction...
What New York Must Do Offensively to Win
Dial up some deep balls to your talented and healthy receiving corps against a secondary that has failed to get consistent pressure all season. The Vikings have surrendered 13 passing touchdowns in just five games, which is abysmal. The Giants offensive line is coming around a bit, and Minnesota's defense has just 10 sacks all year, ranking fourth-to-last in the NFL.
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What New York Must Do Defensively to Win
Rough up Josh Freeman in his debut. Top corner Corey Webster should be back to help a leaky secondary, so the Giants have to find a way to make plays against the shaky Freeman, especially with Adrian Peterson banged up and struggling.
Five Most Important Non-Quarterbacks
If they're going to fluster Freeman, JPP will have to lead the way. He still hasn't been himself after offseason back surgery, but he's started to come around lately.
They'll have to be there for Eli Manning against that struggling pass defense, especially when you consider how inconsistent New York's running game has been.
Jon Beason and Linval Joseph
At separate levels, those two will have to lead the way in defending against Peterson, who still has the ability to take over games.
Vikings Injury Analysis
Cornberback A.J. Jefferson (ankle) and left tackle Matt Kalil (back) missed practice Saturday, while Peterson (hamstring) was a limited participant. Safety Harrison Smith (toe) has already been ruled out, according to Joseph Gunther of WCCO-TV Minnesota, and may require season-ending surgery. In other words, the Vikes are hurting. I'd expect Peterson and Kalil to play, but the loss of Smith could really crush an already bad secondary.
Who will win Sunday?
Giants Injury Analysis
The running-back situation is still a mess, which probably means Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) will have to carry the load again on Monday night, although he did not practice Saturday after being limited Thursday and Friday. This may force the Giants to rely on rookie Michael Cox and possibly even throw newly acquired Peyton Hillis into the mix.
David Wilson (neck) is out indefinitely. Webster continues to miss practices and games with a groin injury, but he and center David Baas (neck) are expected to play, according to Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com. So it's not as though the team, as a whole, is in terrible shape injury-wise. Not good shape, but I've seen worse.
B/R NFC East Blog Prediction: Giants 30, Vikings 20
The Giants actually match up quite well with the Vikings, who haven't had much of a pass rush and don't have the firepower to take advantage of that tame New York defense. At home, the G-Men get their first win of the year.