Something has got to give on Monday night when the New York Giants host the Minnesota Vikings. The G-Men enter the game winless and in complete disarray. The Vikes, on the other hand, sit at 1-4, they are about to start a quarterback deemed to be not good enough by a team that is currently 0-5, and some are even suggesting that they should call their season a loss and trade their biggest star. One of these sides is going to step up and put together its best performance of the campaign for a contest that is being showcased on national television; right?
Giants vs. Vikings preview: Hope for New York defense
The defense of the Giants has been nothing shy of lousy this season. New York's pass rush, in particular, has been embarrassing, accumulating all of five sacks in six games. Compare that with the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the NFL with 30 team sacks.
It's not all bad news for the Giants heading into the Minnesota contest. The Vikings will be starting Josh Freeman, who was recently given up on by the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Sunday. Freeman's completion percentage has dropped in each of the last two years. He earned himself a 45.7 completion percentage and 59.3 overall QB rating in three games played this season.
Giants vs. Vikings preview: Hope for Eli
Eli Manning is going through the roughest stretch of his professional career. He has nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions, he has taken a beating throughout the campaign thanks to his lackluster offensive line, and the man known by Big Blue supporters as “Easy Eli” cannot buy a fourth quarter rally at the moment. There are even some within the fan base wondering if the Giants wouldn't be better off trading Manning to a team in need of a quarterback today.
The time for any Manning turnaround, if one is coming between now and January, is Monday night. Minnesota is responsible for the fourth-worst pass defense in the league, allowing 308 yards in the air per contest. Only Jacksonville and, as hard as it might be to believe, the Giants are giving up more points per game in 2013.
The secondary of the Vikings cannot contain Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks, in a contract year and maybe on the trading block, hasn't yet impressed to the point where he is going to receive the deal he desires. Rueben Randle could even be in for a big night considering that the Vikings aren't known for containing slot receivers.
Manning is going to have multiple opportunities for big plays that could lead to scores. What he does with them will determine New York's fate on Monday.
Giants vs. Vikings preview: Prediction
This is it. Looking ahead, this is the most winnable game left on the New York schedule. Winning on Monday won't change the season for the Giants. Defeat, on the other hand, could lead to a meltdown the likes of which this franchise hasn't seen in decades.
A popular opinion voiced via written pieces and sports talk radio is there is no way that the Giants can or will go 0-16. Don't look now, everybody, but that unthinkable scenario becomes very real if New York flops at home against Minnesota. Those championship Giants of just a couple of years ago are gone for good, but I expect that enough of that team will make a brief return on Monday.
It may not be a technical marvel, but this game could be a lot of fun to behold.