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Guest analysis: Vikings vs. Giants

By JOHN MADDEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001


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Madden
I think this whole game is a surprise. I don't know anyone before the season started who thought the New York Giants would have the best record in football. At Minnesota, everyone thought Dennis Green was crazy: He loses his quarterback and he's going to start this guy named Daunte Culpepper? But you know when you really think about it, this is the way the system -- with the weighted schedule and the draft order -- is supposed to work.

I saw Minnesota at the end of the season against the Rams. They'd lost three in a row and they really weren't playing well, but part of that was the quarterbacks they were playing: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner. Those games they lost, they didn't match up well with those guys. But the Giants are not to be confused with Indianapolis or the Rams. They're not that type of offense. Minnesota's weakness is on defense, and I don't know that the Giants can take advantage of that weakness. If you can, then that's how you beat Minnesota.

I think the Giants, unless they can score some points on special teams or turnovers or those types of things like they did against Philadelphia last week, are going to have a tough time scoring enough points. When the Giants lost Tiki Barber as a punt returner and then Amani Toomer gets hurt, now you're going into a championship game without a punt returner? As a coach, that's scary.

It boils down to Daunte Culpepper, Cris Carter and Randy Moss being too much for the Giants defense. The Giants defense is physical, and you can do a lot of things to Randy Moss physically, but when the ball's in the air, it's like rigor mortis sets in on defensive backs. The one thing is if the Giants get ahead. If they do something like they did last week -- run that kickoff back and they're ahead 7-0, and then get a field goal and it's 10-0 -- that's the way they can win this.

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