Two of the NFL's most disappointing teams will face off in New York for the Week 7 edition of Monday Night Football.
The Minnesota Vikings (1-4) will head to the Big Apple to face the winless New York Giants (0-6). And although their records are dismal, this might be the most intriguing game ever between two teams with a combined record of 1-10.
The Vikings will be starting new quarterback Josh Freeman, who was signed less than two weeks ago after being exiled from Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, it should be fascinating to watch Eli Manning and the Giants—who have absolutely no running game—throw it all over against a Vikings defense that is allowing 308 passing yards per game (29th in the NFL).
With both teams looking down the barrel of a lost season, this is likely their last chance to turn their fortunes around for 2013. Here's what each team must do to capture an elusive victory.
Establish Adrian Peterson early and often
Josh Freeman should be more motivated than ever, but now is not the time to rely on him. He's had less than two weeks to work with his new teammates, and while I think he'll do well in Minnesota, he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league before Tampa Bay cut him loose.
The Vikings also have a great matchup on the ground. Peterson, although not as effective as last season, is still one of the best running backs in the league.
He should wreak havoc on a Giants defense that is allowing 123.3 rushing yards per game (26th in the NFL).
If the Vikings can get AP rolling early, they will open up some passing lanes for Freeman and put themselves in a great position to win.
New York Giants
Protect the ball
If the Giants are going to win their first game of the season, they must win the turnover battle.
Now, that's obviously easier said than done for New York. The Giants had the most turnovers in the league entering Week 7, and it wasn't even close. New York has turned the ball over 23 times this season, six more than the next closest team (Arizona Cardinals).
Eli Manning has struggled mightily (mostly due to his lack of a running game), throwing 15 interceptions through the first six games. That matches his total from all of last season and is two more than the next turnover-prone QB in the league (Arizona's Carson Palmer).
Luckily for Manning and the Giants, they aren't facing the most opportunistic D in the league. The Vikings have forced 12 turnovers this season, which puts them right in the middle of the NFC.
If Manning can minimize his risks and help keep his defense off the field, the Giants will have a chance to end their losing streak.
Unfortunately for New York, I don't envision this happening. Look for the Vikings to put New York in an early hole, then prey on Manning as he tries to get his team back in the game by forcing throws.
Prediction: Vikings 23 - Giants 13