COMMENTARY | In a Monday Night Football matchup that might be interesting for all of the wrong reasons, the 0-6 New York Giants host the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings in the NFL Week 7 finale at MetLife Stadium. Here are five things to watch, from a Giants' perspective.
1. Will Beatty vs. Jared Allen -- Allen, the Vikings' perennial Pro Bowl defensive end, has 3.5 sacks thus far in 2013 and 120.5 in his 10-year career. Beatty, the Giants' left tackle, will draw the assignment of keeping Allen away from Eli Manning. Beatty has struggled thus far in 2013, raising concerns that the five-year, $37.5-million contract the Giants gave him during the offseason was a mistake. If Beatty can handle Allen the Giants might have a chance to make some plays down the field in the passing game.
2. Josh Freeman's Impact -- The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, benched in Tampa for awful play and finally cut due to both his play and a conflict with coach Greg Schiano, gets his first start for Minnesota. Having watched Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel try to play the position thus far in 2013 the Vikings are used to poor quarterback play. Can Freeman give them a chance to succeed by doing something other than handing the ball to the incomparable Adrian Peterson?
3. Can The Giants Find A Pass Rush? -- The last thing the Giants want to do is allow Freeman, who likely will be operating with a limited playbook as he has only been in Minnesota for about two weeks, to get comfortable. If they can find a pass rush that would help. New York is last in the league with only five sacks. "We're not getting to the quarterback," head coach Tom Coughlin said this week. "it basically comes down to, I've got to beat this guy, or I have to beat this guy and a half. When you bring five, you do have a chance to get singled up and we have to win when that takes place."
Jason Pierre-Paul has only one sack this season as he plays himself into form following offseason back surgery. Pierre-Paul had a total of 23 sacks the past two seasons, and it would be a huge plus for the Giants if the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end finally began looking like himself Monday night. Perhaps the Giants can also finally get a decent number of snaps from defensive end Damontre Moore. The third-round pick has shown promise, but has been limited by shoulder and hamstring injuries.
4. Who Is Going To Run The Ball? -- Brandon Jacobs turned back the clock in Week 6 vs. the Chicago Bears with a 22-carry, 106-yard performance. No one expects the 31-year-old Jacobs to do that again, especially since he came out of the game with a hamstring injury. The Giants could lean heavily on rookie Michael Cox, a seventh-round pick who has yet to carry the ball in a regular-season game. They also signed veteran Peyton Hillis this week to replace Da'Rel Scott, the reserve back who was waived/injured with a hamstring injury. Starter David Wilson remains sidelined with a neck injury.
5. Can The Giants Finally Stop Giving The Ball Away? -- The Giants have been a turnover machine in 2013, giving the ball away a league-worst 23 times. They have a -16 takeaway/giveaway ratio, also worst in the league. Manning's 15 interceptions are the most in the league and as many as he threw during the entire 2012 season.
"Right now we're careless with the football and it strikes right at my gut because that's one of the things that we preach about the most," Coughlin said this week.
Minnesota has given up 31.6 points per game this season, 30th in the league. If the Giants can stop their gift-giving ways perhaps that will be enough to propel them into the win column for the first time this season.
-- Ed Valentine is editor of Big Blue View, covering the Giants for SB Nation.
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