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Victor Cruz leads the Giants in receptions (35), receiving yards (541) and TD catches (four).

File photo by Nam Y. Huh • Associated Press, Associated Press

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) scrambles during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) ORG XMIT: ERU112

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The Call: Giants 27, Vikings 21

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS
  • Star Tribune
  • October 20, 2013 - 11:33 PM

One man’s prediction: Another week, another starting quarterback for the Vikings. Josh Freeman will have a limited playbook to work with, but his strong arm should give the Vikings a legitimate vertical threat. ESPN is probably not crazy about a matchup of teams that have a combined 1-10 record, but Freeman’s debut is at least an intriguing story line.

Where’s the rush?

The Giants defense has compiled only five sacks, the lowest total in the NFL (the Vikings rank 28th with 10). It seems logical that the Giants will bring lots of pressure to confuse Josh Freeman and test his knowledge of the Vikings’ protection schemes. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, in particular, is struggling after having back surgery in the summer. He has only one sack and 15 tackles in six games.

 

Giving it up

Coaches and players often point to turnover margin as the most important statistic in football, and these two teams will attest to that. The Giants have committed a league-high 23 turnovers — eight more than any other team. Their turnover margin is minus-16. The Vikings are even in that category with 12 turnovers and 12 takeaways. Their only victory this season (Pittsburgh) came in a game when they had no turnovers.

 

Get All Day involved

Adrian Peterson’s 10 carries in the loss to Carolina last week were his fewest since rushing 10 times against New Orleans in December 2011. The Vikings can’t fall behind quickly in a game because it changes their entire offensive focus and reduces Peterson’s impact. The Vikings need to establish their running game in order to take pressure off Freeman and not allow their offense to become one-dimensional.

MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH

Vikings secondary vs. Giants QB Eli Manning

 

About the secondary

An already-maligned position group suffered a significant blow last week with the loss of safety Harrison Smith to a turf toe injury. The Vikings were ranked 29th in pass defense even with Smith in the lineup.

 

About Manning

The two-time Super Bowl MVP has thrown an NFL-leading 15 interceptions and owns a 64.0 passer rating this season. Manning has struggled to the degree that coach Tom Coughlin was asked this week if he has considered benching his quarterback. He has not.

 

Who has the edge?

Manning’s interception total is alarming, but he’s still capable of taking advantage of a mismatch. He will make his 144th consecutive start Monday, and he needs only 215 passing yards to break Phil Simms’ career franchise record.

 

Advantage: Manning

THE BIG NUMBER

34.8The Giants rank last in the NFL in scoring defense, even worse than the Vikings, who are 30th at 31.6 points per game.

BREAKOUT DAY

Josh Freeman, Vikings: Freeman has had only two weeks to digest a new offense and develop timing with his receivers. But he also should be motivated to prove that everything that transpired with Tampa Bay was handled poorly by the Buccaneers and coach Greg Schiano.

PREDICTION

Giants 27, Vikings 21

 

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