Initially there is the complete irrelevance of the meeting, the home side rooted at 0-6 whilst their visitors are not much better off at 1-4 with neither team showing any glimpses of radical improvement.
Josh Freeman has also set many-a-tongue wagging this week after being confirmed as the Vikings’ third starting quarterback this season. Freeman’s performance is bound to draw a lot of attention given the unsavory nature of his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after guiding them to a win-less start to 2013.
There’s also the state of the ground game for both sides that has enticed the headlines in the build-up to MNF; can the reigning MVP Adrian Peterson bounce-back from his worst game of the season last week and just how much have recent personal tragedies affected his performance? What have the Giants got in store for us after Brandon Jacobs inspired their best rushing performance of the season in Week 6, and just what has Tom Coughlin got in store for the newly-acquired Peyton Hillis as he is automatically elevated to the number two slot?
Now how about we take a different perspective on things. Special teams play and its influence on games rarely gets much attention these days. Although it would be easy to get caught up in the Freeman/Peterson media circus, the Giants would be naive to ignore one very focal weapon in the Vikings’ armory.
Although the six opposite teams have more-than played their part in the Giants’ 0-6 start to the season, they have also endeavored to beat themselves on more than one occasion. It may seem obvious, but concentration can go a long way in this sport, no more so than for the Giants who are currently the only team in the league this season to allow two return touchdowns. Trindon Holliday went 81 yards to score for the Denver Broncos in Week 2, and Dexter McCluster was allowed 89 yards after collecting a punt in a 31-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
This is where Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson figures into the equation. Patterson announced himself to the rest of the league in Week 2 when he took the opening kick off 105 yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. The prospect out of Tennessee is currently third in the NFL in yardage returning kicks with a total of 406 yards on just 12 attempts, making his average return the best among the top five in this field.
Although it is defending punt returns where the Giants have tripped up more than most this season, the two go very much hand-in-hand. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn needs to take note of the immediate threat posed by Patterson to avoid another game getting away from the Giants and another scoreboard deficit of their own making.
As the 2013 season has proven, there are plenty of ways to beat the Giants, just let this not be one of them.