New York Giants (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Monday, October 3 at 8:30pm ET
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYG +4/MINN -4
Over/Under Total: 43.5
Monday Night Football is always a nice way to cap off the NFL week and this weekís matchup features a couple of surprise teams in the NFC. The New York Giants head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings with both teams looking to build off quick starts. The Giants passing game was expected to be good but the defense for the G-Men has helped them to two close wins so far. Speaking of defense, Minnesota has been a lights-out D through three games, holding down Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton to help the Vikes start 3-0. If Minnesota can notch another W, they will have the tiebreaker advantage over three NFC teams that figure to be in the playoff mix come the end of the year.
When you lose your quarterback and starting running back, one would think that hard times are ahead. That hasnít been the case for Minnesota and the online betting sites like them as four point favorites this week. Both teams appear allergic to the MNF stage with New York going 2-5 ATS in their last seven Monday games and Minnesota has gone winless against the spread in their last seven Monday Night contests. The Giants have also struggled to play up to better competition, going 4-9 ATS in the last 13 versus an opponent with a winning record.
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New York will be looking for a better result than last year when they were whacked by Minnesota, 49-17, in Week 16. The Vikings rushed for 218 yards while holding the Giants to 109 yards on the ground and picking off three Eli Manning passes. A lot has changed for Minnesota since then with the loss of Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson but those losses have yet to put any Lís on their record.
Replacing Bridgewater seems to be going alright with Shaun Hill managing the first win and Sam Bradford looking efficient in the following weeks. The big problem has been the utter lack of a running game however with Minnesota averaging just 51 rushing yards per game and netting less than three yards per carry. Those are league-worst numbers and the Giants enter holding opponents to a 5th-best, 77 yards per game. To make matters worse, offensive linemen Alex Boone and Nick Easton are listed as questionable for the game. That has prompted practice squad signings in Minnesota as Matt Kalil is already on IR.
Minnesotaís defense has been the cure to all ills so far. The Vikings are no worse than 9th in the yardage allowed categories, clocking in as the 7th best run-stopping unit and holding the competition to 13.3 points per game. They sacked Cam Newton eight times last week to bring their season total to 15 with four different players recording two or more so far. The secondary has picked off five passes, found the endzone twice and Marcus Sherels added a punt return touchdown for good measure. That kind of performance is probably unsustainable but the Vikes are legit on defense and even more of a force in their new building.
I feel like we know what we are going to get with the Giants on offense as Eli Manning has become a very efficient passer in the Bob McAdoo system. Manning has hit on 71% of his passes through three games and his receiving options have now grown beyond the super-talent Odell Beckham. Sterling Shepard and a suddenly effective Victor Cruz give the Giants three capable pass catchers that must be defended. The Giants running game is depleted by injury with pass-catching back Shane Vereen now on IR and Rashad Jennings fighting a bad hand but there was a rather low chance of them running well in this game anyway. More troublesome is the fact that New York is going to its practice squad for secondary depth with Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie both looking doubtful for Monday Night. Stefon Diggs has emerged as a playmaker in the Minnesota passing game and both of these teams might wind up throwing a bunch considering how neither have been able to run the ball with any success.
It appears that Minnesota will enjoy a tremendous home field advantage in their new building but they will have to put forth a more consistent offensive effort if they are going to stay hot. Getting defensive scores and five sacks a game is great but needing that kind of defensive production to cover a struggling offense eventually leads to losses. The Vikes will be OK if they turn out to be the 1998 Bucs or 2000 Ravens but I need to see that for a little while longer before I am laying four points to a quality offense. Iím calling for the upset here with Manning and all those receivers getting on track. I think Minnesota was overlooked by many but the league is well aware now and they will not sneak up on anyone going forward. This is a tight game, one probably hinging on field position and one big play here or there. New York is only giving up 20.3 points per game and has the better quarterback in this matchup. They allow that 20 but are able to get 23 on the board to pull a minor upset. If you donít like the money line bet, take the points for sure as Minnesota is good but heading for a stumble.
Evergreenís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New York
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