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5 Vikings-Giants Storylines to Follow

The 3-0 Vikings will take their perfect record onto the big stage of Monday Night Football to play the New York Giants, a team looking to get back on the winning track after a home loss to a division rival (Washington Redskins) last week.

Here are five storylines to chase during the buildup to Week 4's Monday Night Football matchup...

1. Vikings defense looks to continue positive trends

The Vikings have opened the regular season with three dominant performances on defense, punctuated by an eight-sack, three-interception outing against reigning MVP Cam Newton last week. In the last two weeks, the Vikings defense has held Aaron Rodgers and Newton to a 1-4 TD-INT ratio and they've sacked the two passers a combined 13 times. Mike Zimmer's group has also taken the ball from the opposing offense nine times this season, second-most in the NFL. Also, the Vikings defense has accounted for 16 points (two touchdowns, one safety). On Monday night, the Vikings defense will look to continue a trend of outstanding performances against a quarterback who has struggled against them. Giants QB Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner, has been anything but super against the Vikings. Manning is just 2-5 as a starter against the Vikings with a 5-14 TD-INT ratio.

2. New-look Vikings offensive line on tap?

Last week it was a new-look rushing attack for the Vikings, with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon taking over for the injured Adrian Peterson. This week, it may be a new-look offensive line that takes the field. TJ Clemmings is slated to start his second game in place of the also-injured Matt Kalil, and Jeremiah Sirles could be in line to make his first Vikings start if Alex Boone, who was injured during last week's game, is unable to play. Sirles filled in admirably for Boone in Carolina.

3. Odell Beckham, Jr. won't be avoided this time around

These two teams met late in the 2015 season, but start receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. did not play in that contest. The Giants defense has plenty of other playmakers, but they are an easier group to defend without OBJ. The Vikings won't be able to avoid Beckham, Jr. this time. He's the best receiver the Vikings have faced so far this season, plus he has Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard within his position group to help take some attention away. The Vikings secondary has played great so far in 2016, but they'll face their stiffest test yet on Monday night.

4. Fierce pass rush versus quick release

To get the ball to Beckham, Jr., the Giants must first protect the quarterback. They've done a good job so far in 2016, surrendering an average of two sacks per game. But they also haven't faced a pass rush nearly as intense as the Vikings. The Vikings lead the NFL with 15 sacks this season, which is the same number the Giants previous three opponents (Dallas, New Orleans, Washington) have combined. The trick to rushing Manning, though, is that the veteran quarterback is known for getting rid of the ball quickly. Generating quarterback sacks on defense is a function of rush and coverage, so the Vikings defense will have to be methodical in how they attack the Giants intelligent passer.

5. Vikings return home to take care of business before a tough stretch in the schedule

The Vikings will return to U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday for the second home game of the season. They will also play at home next week, giving them a chance to take advantage of back-to-back home games. It's important they do that because a tough stretch in the schedule lies ahead after that. After the Week 6 bye, the Vikings enter a stretch where three of their next four games are on the road, including a contest at the always raucous Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and a Halloween night game at Soldier Field. It doesn't get any easier after that, with games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions on the road on a short week on the docket.

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