The New York Giants will face the league’s best front seven in the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. How will the Giants O-line protect Eli Manning in Minnesota?
With all the focus on the health of the New York Giants secondary this week, the Minnesota Vikings boast the best pass rush in the league through three games. With Marshall Newhouse out again on Monday Night, the Giants O-line needs their best game of the season to keep Eli Manning upright.
The Vikings have 15 sacks through three games. Last week, they had eight against the Panthers and Cam Newton. The strength of the Panthers offensive line is on the inside with center Ryan Kalil and guard Trai Turner. The Vikes got to the quarterback last week from the outside which will likely be their plan of attack on Monday.
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Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg will be solid up the middle, but Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart must be able to hold the edges. Flowers drew the short straw as he will likely be matched up against Everson Griffen. Griffen, the NFC defensive player of the week, is behind only Von Miller with four sacks this season.
Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Packers 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants’ troubles don’t end with Griffen, however. Two other players on the Vikings front seven have three sacks a piece: former Giant Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter. Hunter finished second on the Vikes in sacks in 2015, his rookie year, despite not starting until Week 6. The third-round pick from LSU is 6’6”, has long arms and a quick step. Hart will have his hands full on the other side of the line as well.
Get The Ball Out Early
The only hope for the Giants O-line is for Manning to get the ball out early and often. It’s fair to say the running game won’t be a huge threat with the top two RBs injured. That means feeding what might be the best wide receiver trio in the league in Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard.
OBJ, Cruz and Shepard are all on pace for over 1,000 yards each. It’s far too early to start projecting that far ahead, but Manning tends not to make drive-killing mistakes when targeting that trio. Just look at Eli’s stats last week, courtesy of NFL Network’s Kim Jones.
The Giants will have to keep an RB in the backfield to help one of their tackles, but which one? The tight ends will have to help protect Manning in Week 4 as well. It will be all all-around effort to keep Eli upright. But if the Giants lean on their talented wide receivers, they should be able to come out of Minnesota with a win.