ESPN surely did not envision such a dismal looking matchup for Week 7 of Monday Night Football, but that’s just what everyone will get with the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings traveling to take on the 0-6 New York Giants. A layer of intrigue is added as Josh Freeman will make his first start for the Vikings two weeks after signing with the team, but otherwise these are two teams trying to salvage seasons that have gone off the rails quickly.
Here are some key numbers to watch in Monday night’s game, which I think will go a long way toward determining who leaves the field with some positive vibes.
308- The Vikings have allowed 308 passing yards per game this season (29th in the league), and that was with safety Harrison Smith (turf toe) available for most of the first five games. If Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning can’t get back on track in Monday night’s game, even for just one game, he may officially become a lost cause for 2013.
67.8- The Giants are averaging 67.8 rushing yards per game this season (30th in the league), along with 3.6 yards per carry (27th in the league). To be fair they also have the fourth-fewest total rush attempts in the league (113; 18.8 per game) as well, due mostly to losing four of their first six games by at least 15 points and the underachievement of running back David Wilson prior to his being sidelined by a neck injury.
61- In three career games against the Giants, Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson has averaged just 61 rushing yards and less than 15 carries per contest. His carry total may be the single number that conveys how Monday night’s game is going for Minnesota, for better (more) or worse (fewer).
7.3- Freeman has averaged 7.3 yards per attempt twice over a full season in his career (2010 and 2012), with a career average of 6.9 yards per attempt. Compare that to Christian Ponder, who has a career average of 6.3 yards per attempt with a career-best of 6.9 yards per attempt in his three games this season, and it’s safe to say Freeman’s mobility and arm strength can give Minnesota’s offense an element it simply has not had.
5- The Giants only have five sacks so far this season, including just 1.5 combined from defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. The Vikings have struggled in pass protection this season, allowing 14 sacks in five games, so New York’s pass rush could re-establish itself on Monday night in a favorable home environment.
1- Freeman has one career start against the Giants, in Week 2 of 2012 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he went 15-for-28 for 243 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 41-34 loss. I don’t think much can be taken from that game and applied to Monday night’s game or Freeman’s current situation, but he may be able to better handle the crowd noise at MetLife Stadium since he has experienced it before.
-16- The Giants have a league-worst minus-16 turnover differential this season (23 turnovers, seven takeaways), including a league-high 15 interceptions thrown by Manning. Any advantage they may gain over the Vikings on Monday night could quickly be negated if the turnover parade continues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.