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What to watch for on MNF: Giants-Vikings

Tonight, the Vikings go for an improbable 4-0 start against the defensively stout New York Giants and their Packers-East offense. Head coach Mike Zimmer has Minnesota rolling well above expectations with no signs of slowing down. Will this be their toughest test yet?

Here is what we're watching for...

1. How will the Vikings handle Odell Beckham? Teams with heady safety play tend to fare better against the Giants, and Harrison Smith might be the very best in the NFL. The Vikings are loaded with smart, aggressive cover corners and likely won't struggle as much against the Giants as they did against, say, the Panthers (even then, not much of a struggle). In watching some of Minnesota's tape from last week's win over Carolina, the X-Factor was Greg Olsen, who could win some 1-on-1 matchups against linebackers, helping them move the chains. While New York's three-headed monster of Beckham, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepherd is formidable, it is hard to see them being any more of a threat than Kelvin Benjamin, Denvin Funchess and Ted Ginn.

2. Will the Giants break their streak of unpredictability? Believe it or not, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo is a very unpredictable play caller. Advanced NFL stats show his propensity to throw or pass on common downs like first-and-10 or second-and-1 to 5 are almost exactly 50 percent (his passing numbers, from short left to long right, deep center and short middle are almost exactly even as well). This was thanks to a deep stable of experienced veteran running backs, but now that luxury is gone. Without Rashad Jennings or third-down back Shane Vereen, the Giants will likely be forced to open up the offense more than they'd like.

3. How will a young left side hold up against the Vikings' massive defensive front? The Giants are fourth in the league in run play reliance behind the left guard. That means extra work for 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh, a converted tackle who, along with rising star center Weston Richburg, have helped pace the team's ground game. Without the strategic ability of Jennings in the lineup, though, Pugh's task becomes far greater. He will also be working against an old friend -- former Giant and human boulder Linval Joseph.

4. Will the Vikings test the Giants' expensive new secondary? The Vikings are last in the NFC in yards, plays run, yards per game and yards per play. We imagine that will change as Sam Bradford grows into the offense. But something else we also foresee? The development of Minnesota's young receivers on deeper routes. Without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have the challenge and opportunity of resetting the board on offense. Against Carolina that meant a heavy reliance on tight end Kyle Rudolph and wideout Stefon Diggs while still planning to run the ball between 25-30 times per game. This week, expect to see more from Diggs and soon-to-be Bradford favorite Adam Thielen.

5. Looking for something to drink? The New York/New Jersey beer scene is fantastic, especially around the East Rutherford area where the Giants play. A 45-minute drive either way from the stadium can get you to the renowned Brooklyn Brewery or maybe an underground favorite of mine like Roselle Park's Climax Brewery. But there are also some amazing small-batch brews happening in the New York State wine region, which are often overlooked due to their distribution issues. Hopefully that changes soon. If you get a chance, score yourself a growler of GoatMeal Stout, from Seneca Lake's Two Goats brewing company. A short drive up Route 81 north brings you to a scenic pub overlooking one of the most beautiful sections of the Finger Lakes. Inside, the deep stout pairs perfectly with the bar's roast beef sandwich -- literally the only dining selection on the menu.

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