It seems like just yesterday we were waiting for what felt like an eternity for the 2016 NFL season to begin. Yet, here we are, already almost a quarter way through the new campaign.
In Week 4, the 2-1 New York Giants will travel northwest to take on the 3-0 Minnesota Vikings in what projects to be an absolutely enthralling Monday Night Football showdown.
New York is coming off a tough home loss to the Washington Redskins. However, for the most part, the Giants have played well in 2016 after spending a boatload of money on defensive reinforcements over the offseason.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have been one of the greatest stories of the 2016 NFL season thus far. Despite losing QB Teddy Bridgewater for the entire campaign and RB Adrian Peterson after just two games, Minnesota hasn’t skipped a beat and is coming off a huge road win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.
So, will Ben McAdoo’s bunch shock the masses and pull off an incredibly important NFC road win in front of a national Monday Night Football audience, or will Mike Zimmer’s Vikings hold serve to the absolute delight of the U.S. Bank Stadium faithful?
Find out with these five bold predictions.
Eli Manning Throws Two TDs, Two INTs
It’s no secret the Vikings are winning games by showcasing a stout front seven and excellent secondary this season. Facing a team built in this manner is typically a nightmare for an opposing quarterback, especially when the game is on the road and under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.
However, Eli Manning’s shown there isn’t a stage that’s too big for him throughout his career, and he’s come through with some epic road performances like the NFC Championship game against Green Bay in 2008.
Thus, you can expect Manning to have some impressive moments against Minnesota. But he will also fall victim to overwhelming pocket pressure at times and commit a few boneheaded turnovers.
Sam Bradford Electrifies
The Vikings made an astonishingly aggressive move by giving up a first-round pick to obtain Sam Bradford’s services from the Philadelphia Eagles following the Teddy Bridgewater injury.
It was a move that was met with an abundance of criticism, but Minnesota looks incredibly wise now that Bradford has played well through his first two games as a Viking.
In his first start, Sam tallied a surprisingly solid 286 yards and two TDs against Green Bay. He followed his debut with a modest 171 yards and one TD in a tough environment in Carolina during Minnesota’s Week 3 road win.
The most important aspect of Bradford’s play thus far aside from the fact that the Vikings are 2-0 in his two starts is how smart he’s played, as Sam has yet to throw an interception.
In Week 3, the Giants gave up 296 yards and two TDs to Kirk Cousins in their own building. While their defense is undoubtedly better than it was a season ago, it’s far from impregnable, and projects to struggle on the road. Expect Bradford to electrify with nearly 300 yards and two TDs at a minimum.
Vikings Defensive Line Erupts For Six Sacks
In Week 3, Minnesota’s pass rush was borderline unstoppable. The Vikings, led by an unbelievable performance from Everson Griffen (three sacks), sacked Cam Newton an unfathomable eight times and tallied 12 quarterback hits overall.
The Vikings defense is being compared by many to their “Purple People Eaters” unit of the past. Put simply, this is bad news for the Giants. According to Pro Football Focus, New York’s offensive line ranks just No. 20 in the NFL.
While I don’t expect the Vikings to record eight sacks for the second week in a row, I do believe we could see Eli Manning lying on the ground in agony after being sacked around six times in this one.
Odell Beckham Jr. Nowhere To Be Found
Let’s be honest. Odell Beckham Jr. is tremendously talented, but his diva behavior is absolutely outrageous and overwhelmingly annoying.
To make matters worse, he isn’t performing at a high level every week this season. The Giants dealt with similar behavior from Odell during his first two NFL campaigns, but it was much easier to stomach when he was lighting NFL gridirons on fire with sensational efforts.
Against Minnesota’s seemingly impregnable defense, Beckham Jr. doesn’t stand a chance to explode for a monster stat line. Expect Odell to pull a vanishing act in this one.
Vikings Cement Seven Point Victory, Remain Undefeated
While I firmly believe the Giants are the inferior team, I think they will hang around long enough to be alive still when we reach the fourth quarter in this one. However, that’s when the Vikings will start to take full command of the game.
A costly fourth quarter turnover will ultimately prove to be too tough for ‘Big Blue’ to overcome, and the Vikings will be 4-0 after cementing a seven-point victory.
[Featured Image by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]