Free NFL Pick: New York Giants at Minnesota 12-21-2010

December 11, 2010

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New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday December 12th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: New York Giants -3

Overview:

Forget about the Vikings record overall. They are 2-0 in the Leslie Frazier era. The interim head coach is trying to prove to ownership that he has  what it takes to take over full time and he has been overly impressive thus far. If he can muster a victory this week, it will give even more merit to the notion that he has turned around the organization. This is the same team that was blown away by 28 at home only three weeks ago, but they look like a completely different football team under a head coach that appears to have more clout in the locker room.

After dropping two straight, the Giants bounced back with back to back wins. They are now 8-4 and tied with the Eagles for 1st place. The Wild Card race is tight in the NFC this season, with the Saints, Eagles, Buccaneers, Falcons, Packers, and Bears all fighting over five playoff spots (yes the NFC West still gets to have a representative in the playoffs). The Giants certainly don’t want to be left in the cold, and making the Vikings regress to their old habits will be the easiest way to take the next step towards a division title.

Keys to the Game:

  • Leslie Frazier needs to start Tarvaris Jackson. The same Jackson who threw three interceptions against the Bills. Brett Favre couldn’t throw the ball as of yesterday. While Favre is obviously trying to extend his consecutive start streak, winning has become important once again in Minnesota. While Frazier would obviously start a healthy Favre, he has a job to win. Every win brings him closer to obtaining a full time job, which takes precedence over Favre reaching 300 starts. The last time Brett Favre was not starting on Sunday, Eli Manning was 11. It will be odd to see number four sidelined, but Frazier made it clear that he wants Favre to be able to play the whole game if he starts, which may be unlikely.
  • This game features two of the best 4-3 pass rushers in the game. While there are standouts along both fronts, defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Vikings Jared Allen combine for 17.5 sacks alone this season. Both teams will need to get their passing games rolling, so pressure is going to be a crucial part of the effectiveness each team has on defense. Umenyiora went ice cold for five games, but registered a sack last week to break the streak. Allen, on the other hand, is on a tear, racking up 7.5 of his 8.5 sacks in the last five games.

Key Matchup

Ahmad Bradshaw Vs. Adrian Peterson

  • Ahmad Bradshaw got a season high 25 carries last week and didn’t fumble the ball one time. He has had an outstanding season and deserves to be in the starting lineup. On Sunday, he faces a stingy Minnesota defense, who gives only 94 yards on the ground a game. I expect the Giants to come out throwing, but see Bradshaw exceeding expectations as well. He wants to prove he deserves to be in the starting lineup, so don’t be surprised to see him post big numbers, even on the Vikings.
  • Adrian Peterson is going to have to take on a bigger role this week, as regardless of who is under center, the quarterback is a liability this week. I expect the Vikings will give him 20 or so touches, as they don’t want him to aggravate an injury by feeding him 30 touches. This season is lost for the Vikings, so there is no benefit to risking the health of their best player going forward. That being said, the Giants are just as stout against the run as the Vikings are. Whoever is able to have the better day on the ground, or against the run for that matter, is likely to come away with a victory.

Wrap Up:

There are things to like about both sides. Given the injuries to the Giants’ offense, I’m giving this one to the home team. They are playing in the obnoxiously loud Metrodome and are getting points. This is their first real test since Frazier took over, and the team appears to want to succeed for their new head coach. The Giants have been hit or miss over the last four weeks, so three victories in a row seems like a stretch.

Free NFL Pick: Minnesota +3


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