Bob Cooney- Giants-Vikings Preview
This is a repeat of a Week 16 thriller between the two teams in which the host Vikings won on a 61-yard, end-of-the-game field goal by Greg Joseph for a 27-24 win in a game that saw a little bit of everything, from good and bad. Pretty typical of a Vikings game throughout this season.
In that first meeting, both quarterbacks had very good games with the Giants’ Daniel Jones throwing for a season-high 334 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Kirk Cousins threw for 299 and three TD’s.
But injury could play a big part in how those two perform this weekend. Cornerback Adoree Jackson might be back for the Giants after spraining an MCL in week 11. His experience would no doubt be nice to have, but if the knee is fully healed, he could be a liability. Safety Xavier McKinney is back from a hand injury. That could bode well for the Giants who watched Justin Jefferson go for 12 catches for 133 yards and a TD and tight end T.J. Hockenson grab 13 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
But the offensive line for the Vikings is hurting as they will most likely be starting their third-string center, Chris Reed, as starter Garrett Bradbury is nursing a bad back. Also, right tackle Brian O’Neill is out after tearing his Achilles’ a couple of weeks ago. That should bode well for a Giants defensive line that features the disruptive play of both Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Lawrence.
Defensively, Giants DC Wink Martindale loves, loves, loves to blitz and he did so on 52 percent of the time when Cousins dropped back to pass in the first outing. They didn’t force a turnover, and the fact that the Vikings forced two and blocked a punt weighed heavily in them coming out with the win.
Jones has been hot of late, completing 71 percent of his passes the past two games and the Giants offense has to feel good against Minnesota as they went for 445 total yards in their first meeting. Expect a lot of action for running back Saquon Barkley, who should be pretty busy not only running the football against a Vikings defense that has allowed 139 rushing yards a game over the last six weeks, but also catching the ball out of the backfield (10 targets in the first game).
An intangible here as two first-year head coaches head into their initial playoff game: Giants coach Brian Daboll has been an assistant in 30 playoff games with the Patriots and Bills. In those games his teams have gone 23-7 and won 5 Super Bowls.
Another: The Vikings are 11-0 in one-score games this season, while the Giants are 8-3-1.
Many like the Giants in this one to pick up the upset. Totally could happen, but I think the big play players from the Vikings shine a little more.
I’ll go 38-28