Something for the Giants to worry about: Allen vs Diehl
Jared Allen is a game-changing pass rusher. David Diehl is rusty. Plus, he can be vulnerable in pass protection, especially against explosive edge-rushers like Allen on artificial turf (see: Dwight Freeney, Week 2).
Diehl hasn’t played since the Seattle blowout, but he was having a pretty lousy season before he got hurt. Through Week 7, he had allowed 6.5 sacks, compared to 5.5 all of last year. Of this year’s sacks, 4.5 came on outside rushes to his left: This calls into question Diehl’s lateral quickness (he’s 30 years old) and helps explain why the Giants seemed eager to slide him over to guard in favor of Will Beatty in training camp. Given Beatty’s injuries and recent problems with false starts and holding penalties (called or uncalled), Diehl is an upgrade. But he’s a worrisome one.
As for Allen, his year started off badly like that of most of his teammates. He was coming off two straight seasons in which he had 14.5 sacks, but he had just one sack to his name through the first seven games of 2010. What’s more, the NFL made his rodeo-roping sack celebration punishable by a 15-yard penalty in the midst of this. But he’s been on a tear recently: In the past five games, Allen has had 7.5 sacks without being shut out in a single game.
The Giants are better than the Vikings, but not by that much. Certainly not so much that a catastrophic play like a blindside sack/fumble recovery won’t upend the odds.
Something for the Vikings to worry about: Replacing Percy Harvin
Speaking of catastrophic plays that upend the odds… well, it would be too obvious to talk about Ol’ Number 4 as something the Giants have going for them. But just in case there are still people who buy into the aura, it’s worth noting that Favre has the lowest rating for any qualifying quarterback other than Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen.
But that’s too obvious. Instead, let’s focus on another injured Viking. Percy Harvin’s migraines acted up this week, and he’s listed as doubtful for the game after missing practice all week.
Harvin has been the Vikings best receiver this year by far, and his absence will allow the Giants to focus on Sidney Rice. Rice broke out last week in his third game back from injury, but the Giants have been excellent at containing number one receivers this year: They rank fourth in Football Outsiders’s DVOA ratings in that category. Assuming Harvin doesn’t play, Visanthe Shiancoe (437 yards, 2 TD) will be the Vikings only other semi-threat in the passing game. But that should be okay, because according to the Football Outsiders’ ratings, the Giants rank first in the league at stopping opposing tight ends.
So look it this way: If Harvin doesn’t play, there’s a lot that can go wrong for the Vikings if they pass, from Favre throwing an interception to Favre getting permanently disfigured. There’s really not that much that can go right.