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Giants vs. Vikings: 10 Things to Watch

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Everything you need to know about the Week 5 matchup between the New York Giants (2-2) and Minnesota Vikings (2-2):

1. Three in a row. After starting 0-2, the Giants look for their third consecutive victory in the Daniel Jones era when they host the Vikings at MetLife Stadium for the first time since 2013. Big Blue has not won three games in a row since its 2016 playoff season.

2. Jones joins Simms. With victories over the Buccaneers and Redskins, Jones became the first Giants rookie quarterback to win his first two starts since Phil Simms in 1979. Meanwhile, 11 of the 15 winning clubs last week started a quarterback who has yet to see his 27th birthday. Quarterbacks aged 26 or younger have accounted for 39 wins so far, the most in NFL history through four weeks.

The 22-year old Jones is also one of three quarterbacks among the 20 taken within the top 10 selections of their respective drafts since 2010 to win their first two professional starts, joining Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.

3. Defense riding high. Washington totaled just 176 offensive yards last week, the fewest allowed by the Giants since the Vikings, this week’s opponent, gained 164 yards on Dec. 13, 2010. The Giants now have allowed just six points in the past six quarters. In the first 10 quarters of the season, they gave up 91. So what changed? “I’ll let the team that has to scout us figure that out,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “We just made some tweaks, some things that I thought helped us, and those tweaks played out. Those tweaks worked [vs. Washington].”

For starters, cornerback Janoris Jenkins rebounded and recorded two of the defense’s four interceptions last week. He also tipped a pass that led to another pick, all of which resulted in him being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Meanwhile, safety Jabrill Peppers made an impact with a pick-six, and the defense had three sacks.

4. Will he or won’t he? He won’t. Saquon Barkley provided a lot of content this week, but he won’t be making headlines because of what he does in a game for at least another week. The Pro Bowl running back suffered a high ankle sprain during the Giants’ Week 3 victory in Tampa and has been ruled out again for this Sunday. “After consulting with our doctors, we decided that he’s not going to play this week,” Shurmur said. Barkley caused a stir earlier this week when he was seen running, jumping, and cutting during the stretching portions of practice. The Giants have a quick turnaround after the Vikings game and will face the Patriots in Foxborough on Thursday night.

5. Extra Mayo. The Giants are down three inside linebackers. Ryan Connelly (torn ACL) was placed on injured reserve this week, while defensive co-captain Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussin) have been ruled out for the second week in a row. The next players up are David Mayo, who led the team last week in tackles, Nate Stupar and rookie free agent Josiah Tauaefa, who was promoted from the practice squad this week.

Keep an eye on these five players when the Giants host the Vikings in Week 5.

6. Golden Tate returns. The NFL leader in yards after catch since 2010 returned to the team this week after he served a four-game suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances. Tate spent the month in San Diego, where he lives with his family, and he insisted it was no vacation.

“I have trainers, massage therapists, and rehab people there,” Tate said. “I just went back home and worked my tail off, tried to stay ready and get better and hang with the family. I tried to keep myself busy just to take my mind off of it.”

From afar, the veteran receiver saw the change at quarterback, running back Saquon Barkley go down, and Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram carry the load as the top two targets.

“I just want to come in and be a spark, an addition to what we’re doing, just help everybody around me get better and just be myself,” Tate said. “There is no secret that in the slot I’m pretty dangerous once I get the ball in my hands. I feel like I’m pretty dangerous on third down. Hopefully, I am utilized that way. Whatever it takes to win.

7. Stats to know. The Vikings defense has given up the second-fewest offensive touchdowns (one behind New England) and third-fewest yards since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014. Minnesota has scored a league-high 34 points off takeaways this season (40 percent of its total points). The Giants have turned the ball over 10 times, tied with the Bills and Bengals for most in the NFL. The Giants have scored 24 points on their first offensive possessions (three touchdowns, one field goal), the most in the NFL. Minnesota has allowed 14 first-drive points, tied for third-most in the league, despite having a top-10 defense in points and yards.

8. Shurmur faces former team. Last week, Shurmur caught up with Redskins quarterback Case Keenum, whom he coached in Minnesota. This week, he will reunite with the entire team. Shurmur spent two seasons with the Vikings, the last 27 games as offensive coordinator. In 2017, he was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association.

“Yeah, it was a very meaningful part of my career being there for two years,” Shurmur said. “I am very fortunate to be a part of a 13-3 season. In fact, Case Keenum and I reminisced about that a little bit after the game. There are a lot of people there that I worked with intimately, a lot of people there that I care about, but after a few handshakes we get to the business of playing the game. I think they would probably answer the question the same way. We’ll just see what happens.”

9. Cooking with Kirk. The Vikings have invested heavily in quarterback Kirk Cousins, but they are one of two teams (San Francisco) that ran more than it passed through four weeks. Part of the reason is that the Vikings jumped out to leads of 28-0 and 21-0 in their two wins and had no need to air it out, but it’s also Mike Zimmer’s philosophy.

“I know this, when they get grooving running the ball, and I was with Dalvin Cook, an outstanding runner, and they’ve got a list of runners behind him that are very good,” Shurmur said. “They’ve improved their offensive line. I knew (Kyle) Rudolph, Irv Smith, those guys— when they get going and then their play actions, their boots and their nakeds are all tied to that, they are very dynamic. I was with all of those receivers, mainly (Stefon) Diggs and (Adam) Thielen. Those guys can win one on one matchups when they are choosing to throw the ball. I don’t know about all of that stat stuff, I just know that they are very dangerous.”

10. Two games, five days. After Sunday’s game, Big Blue then heads to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots on Thursday night. “Well, I think we’ve had four tough games already,” Shurmur said. “The next one is going to be really tough, certainly, against the Vikings. Then we’ll keep a short horizon here and then we’ll talk about the Patriots when it happens.”

Giants vs. Vikings Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.

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See the Giants take on the Vikings on Sunday, October. 6 at 1:00 PM ET

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