Going into the final game of the regular season, the Vikings are facing a must-win situation against a New York Giants' team that's playing a meaningless season finale for the first time since 2004. I got an opportunity to sit down with Ed Valentine, the head blogger over at SBNation's Giants site Big Blue View, for an exchange of questions about the Vikings and the Giants. Here are the questions that I tossed Ed's way, along with his answers. I hope you enjoy them!
DN: The Giants are playing a Week 17 game with nothing on the line for the first time since 2004. After getting off to a 5-0 start, what happened to the Giants the rest of the way that's put them in the position they're in now?
BBV: Do you have a couple of hours? Actually, I can sum it up pretty simply. Unbelievably bad defense. Four times this season they have given up more than 40 points. They don't rush the passer the way you would think they should with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. They can't stop the run. Without Phillips the safety play has often been horrible. The first-year coordinator, Bill Sheridan, is in way over his head. The defense was supposed to carry the Giants while the offense tried to find its way. Instead, the defense has let the Giants down while the offense has been tasked with pretty much needing to score every time the Giants have the ball if they want any chance of winning.
DN: The Giants have battled a lot of injuries this season as well. Outside of Brandon Jacobs, who just went under the knife, how short-handed are the Giants going to be going into Sunday's game?
BBV: Well, Chris Canty will also be out. Although you could make a case that the Giants defensive tackles have been so bad that they have basically played without any all season. Also, Kareem McKenzie (OT), Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and of course Kenny Phillips and Antonio Pierce. Also, No. 2 running back Ahmad Bradshaw is going to be limited, so Gartrell Johnson will get an opportunity. So, the Giants are thin in some places.
DN: With all of that being said, give me your honest take on what sort of performance you're expecting for the Giants on Sunday.
BBV: It's a mystery to me what you will see Sunday. Going all the way back to pre-season the Giants have been impossible to figure out. They have played some great games that reminded me of the past couple of seasons. Then they have played some horrible games where they just seemed to lay down and not give a damn. Last week was the latter. It was embarrassing to get beat 41-9 and look completely disinterested in their final home game at Giants Stadium. So, I really have no idea. I am curious, though, because the up-and-down nature of the team has some people wondering if they are still listening to Tom Coughlin.
DN: You mentioned that the Giants have played pretty horrible defense, which was a surprise given how dominant their defense had been in the past. Last off-season, the Giants lost Steve Spagnuolo, their defensive coordinator, to the St. Louis Rams. How much has that loss impacted the once mighty New York defense?
BBV: A lot, I think. There has been lots of miscommunicatio
DN: If you could take any player off of Minnesota's roster and plug them into the Giants' lineup, who would you go with and why?
BBV: Well, there are two obvious answers to that -- Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. Peterson is the best running back in the league, and every team would love to have him. I think, though, if I had to pick one I would take Allen simply because the Giants have been so bad on defense. He is the dominant defensive force the Giants thought they had with Tuck or Umenyiora, and that they need to protect that weakened secondary. He might even make Sheridan look competent.
Big thanks to Ed for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We'll have more for you on Sunday's game over the course of the next couple of days. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!