This week marks an important matchup for both teams. For the Giants it is a chance to gain another key win in the tight NFC Wild Card race. The Vikings on the other hand are playing for pride in front of their home fans. The win won't do much for them in the short term, but another win for Leslie Frazier goes that much further towards him gaining the Head Coach position during the next offseason. Let's take a look at the 7+ matchups that will determine which team wins.
This is the premiere matchup in the trenches going into this game. These two guys are at the top of their positions and should give us a great battle all game long. McKinnie is simply a mountain of a man of is hard for anyone to push around, especially a smaller guy like Umenyiora. He's also got some great back-up in All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson.
That said, Umenyiora is one of the best at getting to the quarterback and his amazing speed should be more than enough to get around McKinnie multiple times during the game. Not only is he going to bring the speed, but his co-lineman and back-ups are able to come in and cause the same amount of damage. This all-out assault should decimate even the strongest part of the Vikings O-line and I fully expect the Giants defensive line to come away with a multiple sack day.
Much like the Giants, the Vikings boast quite the dominant defensive line themselves. With so many All-Pros along the front four it's hard to know exactly where the pressure is going to come from. Diehl will likely draw the match-up of Jared Allen, the Vikings resident sack master. He's bound to get lots of help from the tight ends and backs, but it might not be enough.
At the first of the season Allen looked like he had lost a little bit of steam coming off a huge 2009, but he has since turned it around and has at least one sack in each of his past five games. If he brings his "A" he could mirror Umenyiora and have a dominant day on the playing field. Look for him to be in Eli Manning's face all day.
The Vikings were hurting for their big play receiver to start the season and have seemed to become a much better team since Rice made his return. Terrell Thomas might not be a household name, but he has the size to matchup with Sidney on the deep ball. Speed also shouldn't be a problem because Rice isn't exactly a track star.
It's been obvious since his return that the Vikings need Sidney Rice to put up big games. He's been delivering and had what could of been the catch of the year last week against the Bills. Expect to see him come up with a pretty good game this week against Thomas. I think he'll get at least one touchdown with the possibility for more if the Vikes O-line can keep the quarterback upright.
Shiancoe has become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the NFL. He's not quite on the level of someone like Antonio Gates, but he's at least on the second tier of tight ends. If a team can shut him down they take away the Vikes safety valve and go to red zone threat.
When Kenny Phillips was coming out of college I wanted nothing more than the Vikings to pick him up. Sadly, they went another way, but the Vikings lose is the Giants gain. This matchup could be an even bigger factor if Brett Favre goes down because backup Tarvaris Jackson has a special connection with Shiancoe.
I'm probably Chad Greenway's biggest fan and think he can do no wrong. Therefore I think Kevin Boss is going to have a hard time getting free in coverage and blocking Greenway on rushing situations. I'm not saying it's impossible, but he's going to have to work hard.
Look for Greenway to continue to play at a Pro Bowl level. He's one of the best linebackers in the NFL and will keep showing people why with a big game against the Giants. He should cause at least one big turnover, probably from a Ahmad Bradshaw fumble.
Antoine Winfield is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL and by far the best tackler at his position. He's the anchor of the Vikings secondary and really the only bright spot. He simply must play out of his mind this week to keep Manning from taking advantage of the Vikings weak secondary.
Manning has had lots of trouble against the Vikings in the past. In his last three games against them he's had one touchdown to five interceptions. Luckily for him, the Vikes secondary isn't as good as it once was. Without Darren Sharper patrolling center field he should be able to finally kick his bad string of showings against the Vikings.
Obviously the biggest factor in how this game goes is whether or not Favre can play. If he doesn't play the Vikings have to start backup Tarvaris Jackson, who isn't exactly the best quarterback in the league. If Favre can play he probably won't be at full strength.That said, if he can even play decently the Vikings should have a decent chance to pull out the win because of their defense and running game.
If Jackson plays the best thing he can do is not turn the ball over. Last week against the Bills he had three interceptions, luckily the Vikings were playing a sub par team and able to overcome that. This week they aren't going to be able to get away quite as easily.
Antrel Rolle doesn't have many interceptions this year, but he is capable of getting a few against a bad quarterback. If Jackson gets the start he must play within himself and not give the Giants more chances to score.
No matter who starts for the Vikings at quarterback I see the same outcome, final prediction: Giants 24 Vikings 17.