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'Monday Night Football' gets competition from NFC

The pivotal matchup between the Giants and the Vikings that has been moved to Ford Field in Detroit is scheduled to begin at 4:20 p.m. PST on DirecTV, 70 minutes before ESPN's coverage of Baltimore at Houston.

December 12, 2010|By Sam Farmer

Move over Baltimore-Houston, you've got company.

For the first time in five years, the NFL has relocated a game. That means Giants at Vikings — a game that was supposed to be played Sunday at the now snow-damaged Metrodome — will be played Monday night at Ford Field in Detroit.

That also means a pivotal NFC game will be in direct competition for viewership with the Ravens at Texans "Monday Night Football" game on ESPN. Giants-Vikings is scheduled to kick off at 4:20 p.m. PST (it will be aired on DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, Channel 710), 70 minutes before Ravens-Texans.

ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer, while first expressing concern about the people affected by the storm and the Metrodome situation, called the adjustment "a very rare circumstance" and "we still have what we feel is a very compelling matchup."

Hofheimer said ESPN's ratings are on par with last season's, which were up about 20% from those of 2008.

Whereas Houston (5-7) would need all sorts of help to reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Ravens (8-4) are still very much alive — even after losing control of their fate in the division by falling to Pittsburgh at home.

The Ravens have been struggling on offense, scoring a combined 27 points over the last two games after averaging 28.7 in their previous six.

Ravens receiver Derrick Mason told the Ravens' official website: "I'll get crucified for this one, but all the people that we've got on offense, we're not a good offense at times; we're really not …

"If we were a good offense, we'd be moving the ball up and down the field, especially with the people that we have and the quarterback we have. I have a lot of confidence in our personnel, but we're just not a good offense at times."

That offense could look a bit better against the Texans, who have the league's worst pass defense, allowing an average of 287.4 yards passing per game.

The passing game will be a focus in Giants-Vikings, too, but for a different reason. Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre is nursing a sprained right shoulder and, according to NFL Network, has told teammates that he won't be able to play. That would end his NFL-record streak of 297 consecutive starts.

"It really hasn't crossed my mind this week that I've got to get out there to keep the streak going," Favre told reporters last week. "I think the most important streak right now is we've won two in a row."

The Vikings (5-7) would be very hard pressed to make the playoffs, but the Giants are in the thick of the NFC East race. Quarterback Eli Manning has never beaten the Vikings, losing all four of his starts against them.

The Giants play three of their final four games on the road, with their only home game coming Sunday against Philadelphia.

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