Three weeks into the 2016 NFL season and yes, the Minnesota Vikings have yet to lose a game. The Vikings went into the home of the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers last Sunday and treated them like an expansion team.
Minnesota had no trouble with the Panthers and are now one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFC along with the Philadelphia Eagles.
This week, the Vikings will host the New York Giants in front of their home crowd on Monday Night Football. This will be Minnesota’s first Monday night game since last year’s debacle in San Francisco that seems like a mirage now more than anything.
What must the Vikings prioritize this week in order to prevent their first loss of the 2016 season?
DO – Take advantage of the Giants’ depleted secondary
Heading into Monday’s game, New York’s defensive backfield may be competing with Minnesota’s offense on this week’s injury report.
Defensive backs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin), Eli Apple (hamstring), and Darian Thompson (foot) could all possibly miss the game against the Vikings. Even if any of them are able to play on Monday, Minnesota should still use their passing game to test how healthy the Giants’ pass defenders really are.
Chances seem high that another NFC Offensive Player of the Week award could be in order for Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs after this week’s game.
DON’T – Change any defensive strategies
As cliche as it might sound, if it is not broken, do not fix it. This is exactly what Minnesota should do when it comes to their defensive game plan against the Giants.
The Vikings’ defense already has 15 sacks, five interceptions, and three touchdowns this season and are clearly playing like one of the league’s best. Minnesota’s success on defense in 2016 has definitely taken some of the focus off of their offense’s struggles this season.
Super talented wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has never played against the Vikings (missed last year’s game due to a suspension) so it will be interesting to see how Minnesota is able to handle a player of Beckham’s caliber. But based on the final statistics of Panthers’ wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess after last week’s game, the Vikings defense has plenty of talent to prevent Beckham from burning them.
DO – Keep Cordarrelle as a gunner on punt coverage
We know that Patterson has not evolved into the player that Minnesota may have wanted when they drafted him in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. But he seems to have come into this season with a much different mentality than in the past and wants to do whatever it takes to help this team win.
The Vikings used him as a gunner last week against the Panthers last week and he did very well. If he is not working out on offense, at least the team is finding other ways for Patterson to contribute this year instead of wasting his talent on the bench.
Cordarrelle Patterson with the Special Teams tackle! If they won’t play him on offense, at least he’s contributing in other areas. pic.twitter.com/qv8zKPSBhA
— Vikings Diaries (@VikingsDiaries) September 27, 2016
DON’T – Get caught up in the atmosphere
Now this is not the opening night at U.S. Bank Stadium against the rival Green Bay Packers like it was in Week 2, but the feeling in the building may be quite similar on Monday.
In the recent past, Minnesota has been the best when it comes to performing in primetime with millions of people watching from their televisions. The Vikings are 2-8 in their last 10 games on Monday night and have not won since 2009.
Two of those eight losses have come against the Giants franchise that Minnesota is facing this week. The Vikings have already proved a lot of doubters wrong this season, so there is no reason to think that they cannot do it again on Monday.