In any other season, the Minnesota Vikings traveling to New York to take on the Giants would be a must-watch Monday Night Football game. Tonight, as the team’s prepare for their 8:40 EST / 5:40 PST kickoff at MetLife Stadium, they’ll likely encounter some fans waffling about whether to catch MNF on ESPN at all, or watch Monday Night Football online free using the links below. The Vikings have a horrid 1-4 record through six weeks, trumped only by the 0-6 Giants. Those records could leave NFL fans turning the HDTV off completely and opting for a match-three game on their tablet, but these are teams desperate for a win, so tonight’s MNF game is bound to see them both go all out.
The Vikings probably provide the biggest reason to watch tonight’s game. Although Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson was in the headlines two weeks ago for horrible reasons, he did play last Sunday, and his personal misfortune was trumped by bigger professional news from Minnesota that the team signed quarterback Josh Freeman. Tonight’s MNF game against the Giants marks Freeman’s Vikings debut after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a public disagreement with Buccaneers head coach Greg Schian. Freeman believed he could be a starting QB in the NFL, and he’ll get his next shot tonight as Christian Ponder plays the backup QB role. Freeman will have to show some serious improvement — he ranks 35th of 36 quarterbacks in the NFL’s Quarterback Ranking (QBR) — but on a struggling Minnesota Vikings team, he’s bound to get a chance.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, the QB right above Freeman on that QBR list is New York quarterback Eli Manning. On paper Manning seems to have had a decent season, going 123-229 for 1,721 yards and nine touchdowns. Those figures have led the Giants to have the eighth-ranked passing game in the NFL, also not shabby. But when you watch Monday Night Football online free tonight, you’ll see a Manning desperate to have a different outcome than that of older brother Peyton last night in Indianapolis.
Through six winless games, Giants QB Manning has thrown 15 interceptions. Yes, 15. In six games. Things have gotten so bad for Manning, in fact, that Newsday, a NY-based newspaper, asked four former NFL quarterbacks whether the Giants should draft a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. All four — including former NY Giants great Phil Simms — said no. It’s largely not his fault, some say: “The inability to establish any kind of run game, combined with the early-season failures in pass protection, rattled Manning, and even though the protection has improved overall and Brandon Jacobs managed to rush for 106 yards against Chicago, Manning still just doesn’t seem right.”
Another element that doesn’t seem right: the betting line for the Vikings vs. Giants. According to SB Nation, the home-team Giants were a 3.5-point favorite this morning, with more than 63% of the betting consensus being on the Giants, and almost the same percentage betting OVER 47.5. For the NFL season so far, “these teams have combined for a 9-2 record favoring the OVER, which makes it very curious why the picks computer is predicting a low-scoring game (19-9 Vikes).”
But favored they are, as the 0-6 Giants also are getting the nod from all but two ESPN analysts. You can watch Monday Night Football online free via the ESPN App on Xbox 360 or on DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket Package. Although the package itself requires a subscription, anyone can watch the live streaming version free if they have it. As you watch, do you expect to see the Giants finally get that elusive victory, or will the struggling Vikings get the first W for their new starting QB, Freeman? As I said in the intro, this may not seem like a must-watch game, but those two questions will at least provide some intrigue.