Twins vs. Yankees
It’s the Twins’ Bomba Squad vs. the Bronx Bombers in a battle between the two most prolific home run hitting teams in the history of Major League Baseball. The Twins hit 307 dingers this year to the Yankees 306, both outpacing the previous record of 267 last season by the Yankees.
Nevermind the new baseball and all that, it’s a complete shocker that the Twins would ever own the title of most home runs in a season, given they’ve been coming up short on hitting the long ball since the days of Harmon Killebrew and Tony O, even in their World Series winning seasons back in ‘87 and ‘91.
The problem for the Twins is that the Yankees have owned them pretty much the entirety of the 21st century, and the Twins have never advanced past the Yankees in the post-season. Ever. The Yankees are a combined 100-37 against the Twins since 2002, including 13-2 in the post-season. The Yankees also won this season’s series 4-2.
But the season starts anew tonight at 6:07pm central time, when Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68 ERA) faces off against James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) at Yankee Stadium in a best of 5 game series. The Twins are one and a half run underdogs tonight. Needless to say, picking up a win or two in Gotham would be big before the series moves to Target Field on Monday.
Vikings vs. Giants
Mike Zimmer goes up against his former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for the first time on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Both presumably know each other’s tendencies, and Shurmur perhaps has more insight because Zimmer is coaching the same team, so the coaching duel will be a good one to watch.
Shurmur was doing his utmost to get Zimmer to focus on the possible return of Saquon Barkley and a big Giants running game in his preparation for the Giants, but don’t be surprised if Shurmur looks to get Daniel Jones and the Giants’ passing game going instead on Sunday, as Golden Tate returns from suspension and may be matched up some against Mike Hughes, who’ll likely take over for Mackensie Alexander, who’s out with a elbow injury. The Giants also have Sterling Shepard at WR, but their leading receiver is actually TE Evan Engram. It’ll be interesting to see how the Vikings choose to cover Engram, who’ll no doubt be looked to by Jones as a safe outlet.
Speaking of the passing game, you may be surprised to see Vikings receivers being tagged for big games on Sunday after such a dismal performance against the Bears last weekend.
Why? Well, Thielen (or Diggs) may match-up against Deandre Baker, who is the worst cornerback in the NFL so far this season. The rest of the Giants’ secondary is nothing to write home about either, so expect the Vikings to challenge that weakness on Sunday.
The strength of the Giants defense is their interior defensive line, so expect the Giants to do what the Bears did against the Vikings to stop the run. Namely, position their edge rushers out wide to better force outside runs inside where they expect their interior line to stop Dalvin Cook before he gets started.
The Vikings will have Josh Kline back at right guard, however, and if you noticed in the games so far, most of Dalvin Cook’s big runs have come to the right side off of blocks by Kline and Brian O’Neill. We’ll see if that continues against the Giants.
Overall, the Giants’ defense is on-par with the Raiders’, which should give the Vikings plenty of scoring opportunities. Offensively, the Giants’ offense ranks 16th in points and 7th in yards, but most of that was built on strong performances by Saquon Barkley, who’s out.
Another match-up to watch is Danielle Hunter going up against former Vikings Mike Remmers at right tackle. I’m guessing Hunter will win his share of those snaps. On the other side, 31 year-old left tackle Nate Solder has struggled so far this year compared to previous years, so we’ll see if Everson Griffen is able to take advantage.
The wildcard for the Giants will be rookie QB Daniel Jones, who’s looked good so far, but is still a rookie and had 2 picks against the Redskins last weekend. Expect the Vikings to confuse Jones with a lot of pre-snap movement - and bring the blitz. Jones’ passer rating of 95.9 falls to just 36.9 when facing the blitz. Both interceptions came against the blitz as well.
Bottom line, the Vikings are 5 point favorites on the road, and need a road victory to help right the ship after last weekend’s dismal performance.
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The Vikings are five-point favorites against the Giants. Will they...
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