As the playoffs get underway, the Minnesota Vikings host the New York Giants in a rematch of the thrilling week sixteen battle between these teams. The two most successful rookie head coaches now have the opportunity to lead their respective groups towards a championship. Even without the presence of right tackle Brian O’Neill, the Vikings offense will be able to do just enough to overtake the Giants.
New York looks to be as healthy as they have been all season, with defensive stars Dexter Lawrence, Azeez Ojulari, and Adoree’ Jackson all ready to play. Though the defense needs to do better against Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota running game, the defensive line will be able to dominate a banged up Vikings offensive line, recording multiple sacks and making it difficult for Minnesota to drive the ball down the field. Offensively, Daniel Jones will struggle more than he had during the regular season against the Vikings. His last game against Minnesota involved a fumble that his offensive line was able to collect as well as multiple accurate passes under pressure that he often misses. Saquon Barkley needs to become very involved for the Giants to pull away with a win.
Against the Chicago Bears last week, although facing poor competition, the Vikings were able to bounce back from the Packers loss and find a groove defensively that they have not had since week one. Danielle Hunter has played his best football over the last couple weeks and will record multiple sacks against rookie Evan Neal. The emergence of Brian Asamoah and Duke Shelley, and the return of Za’darius Smith, should allow the Minnesota defense to do just enough to give the offense an opportunity to win. With Garrett Bradbury questionable, Brian O’Neill out, and the return of Adoree’ Jackson, the Vikings will struggle more than they had previously, but if wide receiver KJ Osborn continues to show out and take advantage of the attention on Justin Jefferson, the Vikings can score over twenty points.
As two of the teams most dominant at situational football play their first high-stakes game in years, a back-and-forth, tight battle is expected. With home-field advantage, the Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will be able to pull away, winning 25-20.