(Spports Network) – New York’s offense can be a very difficult one to keep in check when all its parts are in place and operating in sync, as evidenced by the team’s No. 5 overall ranking in both total yards (384.6 ypg) and scoring (25.7 ppg). Besides the injuries, the Giants’ biggest problem as often been a tendency to stop themselves, having committed a league-worst 31 turnovers that includes 17 interceptions thrown by quarterback Eli Manning (2982 passing yards, 23 TD, 17 INT). That hasn’t been as much as issue the past two weeks due to the heavy emphasis on a ground attack that’s churning out an average of 142.9 yards per game, with both Ahmad Bradshaw (1013 rushing yards, 7 TD, 33 receptions) and the powerful Brandon Jacobs (577 rushing yards, 7 TD) having been very effective in a timeshare.
The two backs have benefited by the work up front from a line that hasn’t allowed a sack in a club-record five straight contests despite having been without David Diehl and Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara for the majority of that period. The impending return of the physical Hakeem Nicks (62 receptions, 800 yards, 9 TD) and the savvy Steve Smith (47 receptions, 3 TD) should greatly bolster a receiving group that’s relied heavily on inconsistent wideout Mario Manningham (43 receptions, 5 TD) and tight end Kevin Boss (26 receptions, 3 TD) as of late.
Leslie Frazier’s promotion seems to have had the most impact on the elevated defensive coordinator’s charges, as the Vikings have been a shutdown operation on that side of the ball in his two games in charge. After holding Washington to a paltry 216 total yards and generating four sacks in a Week 12 win, Minnesota yielded a mere 239 yards and had a season-best five takeaways against the Bills. The charge has been led by end Jared Allen (46 tackles, 8.5 sacks), with the premier pass rusher on a five-week tear in which he’s amassed 7 1/2 sacks and forced a fumble, and the run defense has been superb as well during that stretch.
The Vikings are permitting just 92.0 rushing yards per game (4th overall) and 3.6 yards per attempt, mostly due to the performance of a stout interior core that features two Pro Bowl tackles in Kevin Williams (25 tackles, 1 sack) and Pat Williams (23 tackles) and a quality middle linebacker in E.J. Henderson (80 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT). Minnesota has been somewhat suspect in the secondary, however, and may not have second-leading sacker Ray Edwards (24 tackles, 5.5 sacks) available for a second straight week due to a high ankle sprain, so opportunities may exist for Manning and his pass- catchers.