1:00 PM ET, November 13, 2005
Minnesota (3-5) at NY Giants (6-2), Sunday 1:00 pm EST
The NFC teams meet for the seventh straight year on Sunday. The previous four have been at the Metrodome, with the Giants winning three of those meetings.
The Vikings would prefer to forget the last time they visited Giants Stadium. That was in the NFC championship game in January 2001 and the Giants rolled to a 41-0 victory.
Running back Tiki Barber, wide receiver Amani Toomer and defensive end Michael Strahan are among the Giants that remain from the Super Bowl team. The Vikings then were led by quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wide receiver Randy Moss. Neither will play on Sunday - Culpepper suffered a season-ending knee injury in an October 30 game at Carolina and Moss was traded to Oakland in the offseason.
Barber rushed for 75 of his 101 yards and both of his touchdowns in the first half when the Giants built a 20-point lead en route to a 34-13 rout at the Metrodome last season.
Barber has been especially effective against the Vikings, totaling 173 yards from scrimmage, including a 44-yard touchdown run, in the Giants' 27-20 victory in 2002, and recording 122 yards and another score in a 29-17 triumph in 2003.
Signs point to another Giants win on Sunday. New York is 5-0 at Giants Stadium this season, outscoring opponents by a whopping margin of 173-76. The Vikings are 0-4 on the road and have been outscored, 133-34.
And the defense has not allowed a touchdown in two straight games - wins over Washington (36-0) and San Francisco (24-6). Last week, the Giants yielded just nine first downs and 138 total yards to San Francisco as middle linebacker Antonio Pierce had seven tackles and a sack.
Veteran Brad Johnson now leads a Vikings' offense that averages just 16.3 points. Johnson replaced the injured Culpepper and threw for a pair of touchdowns in the Vikings' 27-14 win over Detroit last week.
Best known for helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl in 2002, Johnson is 59-41 as a starter.
Minnesota may be without running back Mewelde Moore, who sprained his right wrist in the win over Detroit. Michael Bennett produced 106 yards on just 18 carries last week and will likely start on Sunday.
The Vikings recorded four sacks, including two by end Lance Johnstone, and forced three turnovers in the win over Detroit.
Matchup to watch: Former Giant Mike Rosenthal lines up against left end Strahan, who has 6 1/2 sacks.
Series: Series tied, 10-10.
Next week: Minnesota visits Green Bay, November 21 NY Giants host Philadelphia, November 20
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Vikings must protect Johnson
There is certainly the potential for a blowout here. After all, the Giants are averaging more points per game than any other team in the league and Minnesota has given up 30 points in three of its four away games. However, the Vikings' offense is estabslihing a new identity because of QB Daunte Culpepper's season-ending knee injury.
With QB Brad Johnson under center, Minnesota will look to run the ball the more frequently and take fewer chances downfield. If the Vikings can establish their run early and sustain some long drives that eat up the clock, it will keep the score down and give them an opportunity to get the win on the road.
Giants QB Eli Manning got his first win on the road last week and continues to get better, but RB Tiki Barber is the engine that drives the offense. Look for the Giants to use Barber as a runner, receiver out of the backfield and a blocker. Minnesota's ability to neutralize him in each role will factor into the outcome of this game substantially.
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New York Giants
|Avg Points Allowed||25.3||18.6|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||MIN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||MIN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|NY Giants leads 3-2|
|Oct 31, 2004||MIN 13, NYG 34|
|Oct 26, 2003||MIN 17, NYG 29|
|Nov 10, 2002||MIN 20, NYG 27|
|Nov 19, 2001||MIN 28, NYG 16|