New York Giants (2-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, October 3, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NYG +4/MIN -4
Over/Under Total: 43
The New York Giants come to U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. A narrow 29-27 Giants' loss to the Redskins on Sunday stopped this from being a matchup of unbeaten teams. The Redskins scored a FG with under two minutes left to edge the win, but the Giants look to get back on the right track in the second-ever game in the Vikings' new building. With three wins and covers, the Vikes look good and on Sunday, they went into Charlotte and decisively beat the defending conference champion Carolina Panthers, 22-10. The Vikings look to make it 4-0 in this big NFC matchup.
It has to be considered somewhat surprising that the Vikings took to this 2016 season like a duck to water. When we saw Teddy Bridgewater lost for the season, the running joke was "well, that's it for the Vikes in 2016." Not so fast. With what seemed like a panicky trade, they acquired Sam Bradford and it's really paying off now. If you had said that the Vikings would thrive after losing Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, who is going to have knee surgery, not many people would have believed you. But in the last two weeks, they beat contenders Green Bay and Carolina, allowing a combined 24 points from both teams.
On Sunday, Carolina jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead with over 5 minutes still left in the first quarter. The Vikes kept them off the scoreboard for the duration of the game, ending a Carolina 15-game home winning streak in the process. The Vikings defense was again key, picking Newton off three times, also applying a sack that resulted in a safety. They registered 8 sacks, with Everson Griffen chalking up three. This defense makes contributions for this team week in and week out. Against last season's top-scoring offense in the NFL playing at home, they held them scoreless for the final 50 minutes of the game.
The Minnesota scoring on the day came in a variety of ways. Sam Bradford hit TE Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown, a punt was returned for a score by Marcus Sherels, as the Vikings showed they can put up points other ways when the offense is stymied. And the offense won't always succeed, especially on the road against defending conference champions. Bradford was efficient without being spectacular in a tough road spot. He did what he had to do. The run-game looks to suffer without Peterson, as Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata take over the ground-duties. It isn't so much what the Vikings didn't do on Sunday, it's what they managed to do—which is manufacture yet another win. They are resourceful, which is a skill in itself. Sometimes, it's hard to figure out why they're good or how they won a game. That's the sign of a team getting the most of what they have.
The Giants coming up short at home to a Redskins team that was looking for their first win was not a great development. Up 14-3 and then 21-9 late in the first half, things were looking up for the Giants. But a defense that had played well for 2.5 games suddenly got smacked around a little bit, with two Kirk Cousins TD throws and a pair of field goals giving the Redskins the narrow edge. At the same time, no one said the Giants were never going to lose. They're still a work-in-progress, with a revamped defense. Mistakes on offense didn't help, such as a pick as Manning tried to put the Giants in position for the go-ahead FG. It was one of three turnovers and when you add in 11 penalties for 128 yards, some of a very untimely nature, you can see how a good thing can go bad. A third down head-targeting penalty, for example, kept the Redskins' game-winning drive alive. It's a win that was there for the taking for New York.
Eli Manning threw for 350 yards and there are some very positive signs on this defense. It was the mistakes that cost them, not their lack of playmaking ability. Still, they were a bit off-key despite the sterling yardage totals of Manning. Speaking of sterling, Manning is connecting increasingly with rookie Sterling Shepard, who hauled in a TD grab on Sunday. Victor Cruz' reemergence in this offense has been a boost, as he had 70 yards against the Redskins. They were led by Odell Beckham, Jr., who had 7 catches for 121 yards, though his whole spitting contest with Josh Norman and his overall histrionics were probably a detriment. The run-game took another step forward with the efforts of Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa, who combined for 120 yards and two TD runs. But they got bad news with Vereen lost on the season, just as he looked like he was finding a nice role on this offense.
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It's probably not time to start reconsidering the Giants' improved defense after the loss on Sunday, with there being other contributing factors that helped the Redskins get 29 points. In week one, they gave up 19 to the Cowboys, followed by holding the Saints to a 13-point output in their second game. They still weren't at their best against Washington in terms of yielding yardage or in being clutch. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon added sacks, but the defense just didn't get into the groove in week three. Again, with so many new pieces and youth, patience will be required. Overall, they look to be significantly upgraded from the Giants' units of the past few seasons.
It's going to be interesting to see how well Manning and Company perform against this tough home Vikings' defense. They're guided by defensive-mastermind and head coach Mike Zimmer, who has a way of making things hard on opposing offenses. They've given up just 40 points in three games this season. But New York is a little different than those teams, namely in the strength of their aerial attack. I see the Giants putting forth a passionate effort on MNF and covering the spread.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New York Giants plus 4 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting on the Giants vs. Vikings game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!