Vikings-Giants game plan

A run-first, run-often mentality comes into play even more with Brett Favre working through his latest injury. The Giants, on the other hand, could be conflicted on how to approach the Vikings defense.


Brett Favre is dealing with a shoulder sprain that forced him from last Sunday's game against Buffalo, but as is always the case with the veteran, the expectation is that he will play.

If he does, look for him to spend much of the day handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson. Leslie Frazier has made it clear since he took over as the Vikings' interim coach that he wants to run the ball and stop the run, and given the condition of Favre's shoulder there should be no problem with that.

The Giants also are giving up only 192.8 yards per game through the air, which is second in the NFL to San Diego (186.2).

It would be a good idea to keep the Giants defensive line away from Favre, too. That unit has 22 sacks, and the ends have combined for 17.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles.

New York is seventh in run defense, so it's not an automatic that Peterson will have a big day, but allowing him to pound out the yards might be the smartest move.

If Tarvaris Jackson gets the start — and keep in mind that would end Favre's NFL-record starting streak at 297 games — he would provide far more mobility in the pocket and could get away from the rush.

Meanwhile, the Vikings defense will look to continue causing problems for quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning is 0-4 against the Vikings in his career with two touchdowns and 10 interceptions, four of which have been returned for scores.

Manning's 17 interceptions this season are one behind Favre's NFL-high total.

The Giants could try to keep the ball on the ground with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, but the Vikings' run defense has been very good of late and is ranked fourth in the NFL, giving up 92 yards per game.


Frazier has repeatedly said that if Favre is physically ready to go Sunday, the veteran quarterback make his 298th consecutive start.

However, given Favre's physical condition, it would not be a shock if Frazier lets the "Iron Man" start the game and play a few series before pulling him for the more mobile — and healthy — Jackson, who in relief of Favre last week led the Vikings to a convincing 38-14 win over Buffalo.

As far as the Giants defense is concerned, it doesn't matter who plays quarterback for the Vikings. New York has proven that if it can stop the run and force the opposing quarterback to beat its pass rush, it they can emerge victorious.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell devised an effective strategy to contain the likes of Philadelphia's Michael Vick, one that he tweaked for other scramblers such as Jacksonville's David Garrard and Washington's Donovan McNabb.

Either way, the Giants say they will be ready for both quarterbacks, as well as the constants in the Vikings offense such as RB Adrian Peterson, TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WRs Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.

"They definitely do pose two different types of offense that you'd want to prepare for," DT Barry Cofield said of Favre and Jackson. "We're going to prepare for that, and in the passing game, we're going to have to let our ability and talents take over."


Vikings CB Asher Allen vs. Giants QB Eli Manning. Manning has had problems with interceptions this season, but if he's going to target any one corner in this game, it probably will be Allen. Allen, a second-year player, is the starting right cornerback and has had an up-and-down season after replacing injured Cedric Griffin (knee). Allen doesn't have great size (5-foot-9), so he sometimes has matchup issues. Manning is a savvy enough veteran to look to exploit him, but Allen certainly knows all about Manning's problems with picks.

Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Giants DE Osi Umenyiora. This will be a huge matchup if Favre plays. Umenyiora has a team-leading nine sacks this season, and McKinnie is going to have his hands full trying to keep that total from reaching double figures if the 41-year-old quarterback is spending his time back in the pocket. The Vikings likely will look to get McKinnie some help with a running back or tight end providing double-team or chip help.

Giants offensive line vs. Vikings defensive line. The last two weeks, New York's offensive line really hasn't been tested by a premier front four. That will change this week when New York lines up against DE Ray Edwards (or Brian Robison), DT Pat Williams, DT Kevin Williams, and DE Jared Allen, who pose perhaps one of the toughest defensive lines the Giants will face all season. It helps the Giants that they are likely to get starting LT David Diehl back, as he has previously faced Allen, the Vikings' sack leader with 8.5. Still, the question needs to be asked regarding the health of Diehl, who has dealt with a hip and hamstring injury, and if he'll be able to hold up against Allen and the rest of the Vikings for a full game. Meanwhile, the rest of the Giants' interior line — LG Kevin Boothe, C Rich Seubert and RG Chris Snee — are going to have their work cut out for them against the two Williamses, who have been a force against the run.

Giants run defense, ranked seventh in the league, vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who is fourth in the league with 1,123 rushing yards. Peterson is a very dangerous and elusive running back, but he's certainly not the first of his kind that the Giants defense has faced. Back Oct. 10, New York held Houston RB Arian Foster, who like Peterson has been a top-five rusher for most of the season, to just 25 yards on 11 carries. So how does New York stop Peterson the way it stopped Foster? One approach would be to take away the cutback lanes, and getting strong physical play from DTs Chris Canty and Barry Cofield. Canty in particular has had a strong season defending the run, as he not only has played stoutly at the point of attack, but he's also done a good job of controlling his gap to help take away cutback lanes.

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