The Vikings and New York Giants will cap an exciting Week 4 of NFL action by battling at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday Night Football. With kickoff finally fast approaching, here are a few final thoughts on tonight's game.
Giants no huddle
Expect Eli Manning and Co. to use quite a bit of no huddle tonight. This is standard operating procedure for the Giants offense through three games this season, but it could be particularly useful tonight as Manning looks to start quickly and with a rhythm, neutralize the Vikings pass rush and get the ball into the hands of his explosive wide receivers. The no huddle is not to be confused with the hurry-up offense. The Giants won't necessarily hurry up when they go no huddle, but they'll go without a huddle to keep certain personnel packages that they find advantageous out on the field.
Matchup to watch: Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen vs. Giants interior offensive line
Odell Beckham, Jr. going against the Vikings defense is glitzy, but it's certainly not the only fun matchup to watch in tonight's game. Perhaps a more important matchup is the Vikings interior defensive line – Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen are the starters – versus the Giants interior offensive line – LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg and RG John Jerry. This matchup is important because it's at the heart of the running game, where the Giants would like to be productive enough to stay ahead of the chains and keep the Vikings defense off-balance with its play calling, and because pressure from the middle of the pocket as opposed to the edges with defensive ends may be more disruptive to Manning given his desire to stay in the pocket rather than escape and make plays on the run.
Diggs in U.S. Bank Stadium
The Vikings new home looks good and one of the Vikings best players looks good in the new good-looking home. In two games (one preseason, one regular season) at U.S. Bank Stadium, Stefon Diggs has 14 receptions for 253 yards and one touchdown on 16 targets. Carolina held Diggs relatively in check last week (four receptions, 40 yards), and the Giants will look to do the same. The Giants spent big money on free agent cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who could draw the assignment on Diggs tonight.
Zimmer says the running game is close
In a week where some unexpected things happened across the NFL, maybe the Vikings will do what many expect they won't be able to do – run the ball well. Through three games, the Vikings are averaging only 2.1 yards per carry and they have also seen a couple starters experience injuries; Matt Kalil was placed on the Reserve/Injured list and Alex Boone left last week's game in the first half. But Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said earlier this week that he thinks the running game is close to getting going. Zimmer is not one for false praise or hyperbole of any kind, so that he mentioned the running game is close to clicking does mean something.
Short week coming up
The Vikings had the luxury of an extra day to get ready for tonight's battle with the Giants, but they may have used at least some of that extra day to get ready for next week's game against Houston because they have one fewer day to get ready for that one. The Monday night game this week creates a short week for the Vikings, as players will likely have their day off on Tuesday and then get right to work on Houston prep on Monday. The ordinary day-after-the-game debrief and treatment regimen is not part of the schedule this week. The good news is the Vikings play at home next week, giving them Saturday as a full day to prepare rather than tra