Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At New York Giants
- QuarterbackIt looks quite likely that the Vikings will give the start to Josh Freeman. After a poor performance by Matt Cassel against the Carolina Panthers, there’s little reason for head coach Leslie Frazier to think Cassel is the team’s quarterback of the future. Freeman had plenty of issues in Tampa Bay and the Vikings will have to pare the playbook for him, but he may be the team’s best quarterback alternative.Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl winner, but his 2013 season has been disastrous. Manning has made a series of bad decisions and he has thrown 15 interceptions. The winless Giants have many problems and it would be unfair to blame Manning for all of their issues, but he has struggled with his reads, his footwork and his accuracy.
- OffenseThe Vikings don’t need their quarterback to dominate because they have the game’s best running back in Adrian Peterson. He has power, speed, superb instincts and a desire to get into the endzone. Greg Jennings can get open and make big plays, but he is hurt by the team’s poor quarterback play. Jerome Simpson also has the size and strength to get open.The Giants turned Brandon Jacobs loose against the Chicago Bears, and his ability to run over and through tacklers allowed the Giants to mount a second-half comeback. Victor Cruz is one of the best big-play receivers in the league. While he lacks size, he is not afraid of contact and he knows how to get open. Hakeem Nicks has caught 25 passes, but he has yet to find the endzone.
- DefenseThe defense has let the Vikings down this year as they rank 30th overall and 29th against the pass. Linebacker Chad Greenway leads the team with 43 tackles and he also has four passes defensed and two interceptions. The Vikings need defensive end Jared Allen to put more pressure on quarterbacks and improve on his 3.5-sack total.The Giants won the Super Bowl two years ago and their defense was a key reason. Not only could they put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but they were also a very hard-hitting team. Both of those aspects have apparently disappeared. Nobody has more sacks on the team than Mathias Kiwanuka, but his 1.5-sack total is not enough to make a difference.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings should have an edge in this game if it comes down to special teams. Return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff for a touchdown earlier in the season and he remains a threat. Blair Walsh has made 9-of-10 FG attempts.The Giants were victimized earlier in the year by Denver’s explosive return game, and the Vikings appear capable of doing the same thing. Josh Brown is just an ordinary placekicker, having made 4-of-6 FG attempts.
Both teams have been awful this season, but the Giants have the better quarterback and they are playing at home. They are not going to be winless and they get their first win of the season here. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor