The second wild card game on Sunday will feature the New York Giants heading to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Both teams met a few weeks ago, with the Vikings coming out on top 27-24. We’ll preview the rematch before reviewing how I’ll be betting on the game.
Brian Daboll may end up winning Coach of the Year with the turnaround he’s been able to pull off with the Giants franchise. The 9-7-1 Giants look like a reinvigorated team after finishing 4-13 last season, and the health of Saquon Barkley has been a big part of it. Barkley helped the offense do a complete 180 by rushing for 1,312 yards and ten touchdowns.
The development of Daniel Jones under Daboll is a point for his Coach of the Year case, as Jones was able to limit the turnovers for the first time in his career, with only five interceptions on the season and 15 passing touchdowns. What’s even more impressive about Jones’ season is that he did it all with a far below-average receiving corps.
Despite Minnesota’s 13-4 season, their defense ranked 28th in points per game and 31st for yards per game. The Vikings' pass defense allowed an average of 265.6 passing yards per game, which is also ranked 31st in the league. Daniel Jones threw for his second-highest yards total at 334 yards in their one match-up this season.
If it weren’t for the Vikings 8th ranked scoring offense, football fans would be having a much different conversation about this Minnesota team. The passing game is the clear strength of the offense, and they don’t shy away from it, as they ran a pass play 64.02% of the time this season which is the third-highest in the league.
The heavy dosage of passing led the Vikings to average 1.4 turnovers a game this season, but for the most part, Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson consistently exposed their opponent's secondary. Jefferson finished the regular season with 1,809 yards and eight touchdowns.
The point total for this game is currently set at 48 points, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet. The over was 6-1 in the Vikings' last seven games, including the previous match-up between these two teams that exceeded this exact point total. Minnesota has made it this far for one reason: their offense, and with the Giants allowing an average of 21.8 points per game, I expect their success to continue this weekend.
In the last meeting between these two teams, the Giants secondary allowed two Vikings receivers to go over 100 yards and a total of three passing touchdowns. New York didn’t do a good job forcing turnovers this season, so Cousins should be able to operate in the pocket and find success again in the rematch.
As for the Giants' offense, Saquon Barkley was able to rush for 84 yards and a touchdown the last time these teams met. With New York averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season and the Vikings' offense allowing the 20th most rushing yards allowed per game, I’m expecting a similar scoring outcome to the first game from both sides come Sunday.
Over 48 (Would Play to 48.5 if best available by game time.)