Daniel House previews a Monday night matchup with the New York Giants and provides you with all the numbers you need to get ready for the game.
The Vikings are looking to bounce back after a disappointing and embarrassing loss to Carolina off of the bye week. This team is in a huge hole and had many areas to evaluate and fix at practice this week. The team announced Josh Freeman will start at quarterback this week when the Vikings take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. The extra day will allow Freeman to receive an extra day to become more familiarized with the playbook. Vikings players have been raving about Freeman's skill and ability to throw the ball vertically up the field. The coaching staff has been praising his work ethic and his willingness to learn the playbook. Josh Freeman faces the perfect opportunity to show he is the leader of this team against a winless Giants team in primetime. New York has failed to do anything well and their defense has been shredded; much like the Vikings. The Vikings defense will need to halt Eli Manning and a Giants passing game that has shown flashes in 2013. How do the Vikings pick up a much needed winning against a struggling Giants team?
Television: FOX (Channel 9 in Minneapolis)
Play-by-Play: Mike Tirico Analyst: Jon Gruden
Sideline Reporter: Lisa Salters
KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporter: Greg Coleman
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman -10:00 a.m. CT
The Vikings have won 4 of their last 5 meetings against the Giants. After inclement weather caused the Metrodome roof to collapse, the Vikings and Giants played at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., on 12/13/10. The Giants won the game 21-3. The Vikings and Giants have met 4 times on Monday Night Football with each team winning a pair of games. The Vikings and Giants have met three times in the postseason with the Vikings having a 1-2 record in those games. The Vikings 44-7 victory over the Giants on 1/3/10 is the last time Minnesota has scored more than 40 points in a game. The Vikings defeated the Giants in New York, 41-17, on 11/25/07, the same season the Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLII over New England. A win would give the Vikings their 1st win on Monday NIght Football since 10/5/09 when they defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-23. Furthermore, this would provide the Vikings their 1st road win of the 2013 NFL season. Finally, a win would give the Vikings their 27th victory in a Monday Night Football game, which would tie them for 10th all-time in NFL history.
The Primary Focus:
The Vikings offense will have a new dimension with Josh Freeman at the helm, which will provide an interesting element to the game tomorrow evening. The players have openly discussed how they like Freeman's ability to learn the playbook and his freakish athletic stature as he throws the ball deep. This should open lanes for Adrian Peterson, who has struggled to rush the ball over the past few weeks. Freeman needs to show he has the ability to complete intermediate throws in the seam, which is something he has struggled with throughout his career. The key for this organization, is for the front office to evaluate Josh Freeman over the next few weeks to see if he is a potential quarterback for the future. The Vikings offensive line will need to protect much better than they have over the past few weeks. Freeman will need time to make decisions and if the offensive line blocks like they did last week versus the Panthers, it could be a long day for a struggling Vikings offense.
On the Defensive:
The Vikings defense has been awful and is one of the main reasons why this team has failed to win football games. Josh Robinson has been obliterated and the Vikings secondary has yielded the third most passing yards in the league. The pass rush has been nearly nonexistent, which has put more strain on the secondary. Furthermore, this defense hasn't continually been unable to force offenses off the field in third down situations. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has struggled to find receivers and the New York offensive line has been a major disappointment. The Giants front seven has allowed a seventh worst 16 sacks and a middle of the road 27 quarterback hits. If the Vikings want to have a chance in this game, they will need to apply pressure frequently and get off the field in a timely manner. This defense has failed to exit the field quickly, which has made the time of possession lopsided and the defense even more vulnerable. It will be very interesting to see if this defense wants to redeem themselves, or if they have thrown in the towel on the 2013 season.
Special Teams Primer:
Blair Walsh missed time at practice again this week with a hamstring injury to his plant leg. Mike Priefer said this problem is improving, but if Walsh has any issues, punter Jeff Locke will assume the kickoff duties. Speaking of Locke, he has punted very well and is finally gaining net yardage, along with his brilliant ability to plop balls inside the 20-yard line. The special teams group has recovered nicely after early struggles this season and has been one of the main improvements among this team.
Injury Report: (via NFL.com)
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Kevin Williams||DT||Knee||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Xavier Rhodes||CB||Ankle||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Adrian Peterson||RB||Hamstring||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|John Sullivan||C||Hand||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Jarius Wright||WR||Ankle||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Rhett Ellison||TE||Knee||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Rodney Smith||WR||Hip||Did Not Participate In Practice||Questionable|
|A.J. Jefferson||CB||Ankle||Did Not Participate In Practice||Doubtful|
|Harrison Smith||S||--||Did Not Participate In Practice||--|
|Matt Kalil||T||Back||Did Not Participate In Practice||Questionable|
|Jared Allen||DE||Ankle||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Blair Walsh||K||left Hamstring||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Christian Ponder||QB||Rib||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|David Baas||C||Neck||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Brandon Jacobs||RB||Hamstring||Did Not Participate In Practice||Questionable|
|Cooper Taylor||S||Shoulder||Limited Participation in Practice||Questionable|
|Adrien Robinson||TE||Foot||Limited Participation in Practice||Questionable|
|Jayron Hosley||CB||Hamstring||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Corey Webster||CB||Groin||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Shaun Rogers||DT||Knee||Did Not Participate In Practice||Questionable|
|Terrell Thomas||CB||Knee||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|David Wilson||RB||Neck||Out (Definitely Will Not Play)||Out|
|Jason Pierre-Paul||DE||Illness||Did Not Participate In Practice||Questionable|
The main concerns from an injury standpoint appears to revolve around Matt Kalil and A.J. Jefferson. Kalil has a sore back, which could be a major problem heading into the game on Monday night. He is very questionable and early indications appear he may be a game time decision. Jefferson is doubtful with an ankle injury and is seemingly out after missing Saturday's practice.
Brandon Jacobs has a hamstring injury that is really bothering him and could hinder his ability to play this week. Jayron Hosley and David Wilson have been ruled out with injuries, but the Giants seem to be relatively healthy.
Final Keys to Victory:
As I discussed earlier, Josh Freeman needs to show he can lead this team, the offensive line needs to play well, the secondary needs to make an improvement, and the defensive line needs to apply more pressure. All of these keys seem to be a mile away, but this team needs to show they can handle adversity and rebound against a winless opponent, or several jobs could be on the line next week.