Eli Manning, New York Giants Have Point To Prove In Minnesota
Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) calls a play at the line against the Washington Redskins during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning and the New York Giants look to exorcise Minnesota demons, return to elite form against the Vikings on “Monday Night Football.”

Eli Manning has always been at his best when his back is against the wall. If one team has had his number since he’s been at the helm for Big Blue, it’s the Minnesota Vikings.

Not his phone number, as he deadpanned to the media earlier this week.

Manning can make light of his struggles against at Minnesota, but the fact is he’s 2-5 as a starter with a sub 60 passer rating against them in his career. He’ll get another shot at the Vikings sixth-ranked defense on Monday Night in a game the Giants need.

Manning and the Giants are coming off a tough loss to the Washington Redskins, a game his two fourth-quarter interceptions gift-wrapped for Josh Norman and friends. His stat-line looks good on paper (925 yards, 98.1 passer rating) but the Giants’ offense, expected to be one of the NFL’s best, has been inconsistent thus far.

Thanks to their new-look defense, the Giants have been in three close games despite their -6 turnover margin. They must take the next step if they’re going to find success against the Vikings, and Manning, is the catalyst. Not, Odell Beckham Jr., rookie sensation Sterling Shepard, or anyone else. No matter where you fall in the Eli/Elite conversation, Number 10 is the most important player in a blue jersey. He always has been and the Giants have two Lombardi trophies, with Eli taking MVP honors both times, to show for it.

He’s now tasked with getting this new group to gel. With a trio of stud receivers, the likes of which he’s never had at his disposal before, Eli has to be more of the downfield-Eli of old than the high-percentage Eli of today. Having earned his stripes in the NFL, his teammates believe it’s a matter of when, not if.

Victor Cruz told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post that the Giants feel they’re on the verge of breaking through.

“Everybody’s a playmaker, no matter who it is…I believe my years here, I’ve always seen no matter what the coverage is, no matter what’s happening he’s gonna read it out and get to the right play and get to the right throw. He’s always done that.”

– Victor Cruz

The deep-ball is an element of the Giants passing game that’s been criminally underutilized thus far. Playing it safe underneath has improved Manning’s completion percentage, but he’s always been at his best when he’s stretching the field.

‘Can’t Spell Elite Without Eli’

If the offensive line can keep him on his feet, Manning is going to figure it out. He’s unflappable and he’s been New York’s one constant for the past 12 years and counting. When he’s on, he’s one of the league’s best, and he usually takes his game to another level when the Giants need it most.

The fact of the matter is Eli has won and put up numbers that can stand next to the Bradys and Roethlisbergers of the world. When the Giants have to have it, Manning usually goes and gets it. A win at Minnesota will go a long way to erase an ugly Washington loss and quell mild in-fighting. And he knows it.

Possibly without his best two running backs, expect a well-prepared Manning to assert himself early against the Vikings defense. On the national stage and with something to prove, don’t bet against Eli Manning and the Giants putting it all together.