For the first since the 2016-17 season, the New York Giants are back in the NFL Playoffs. Brian Daboll’s first year as head coach of New York has been a resounding success with the upstart Giants at 9-7-1.
Improvements from Daniel Jones, the offensive line, and the defense have all led to New York moving past their yearly struggles and into a winnable playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Both teams faced off on Christmas Eve when Kirk Cousins and the Vikings won on a final 61-yard field goal to beat New York in Minneapolis. Weeks later, the Giants are back at US Bank Stadium and are in a much different position than they were previously. Fully healthy, the G-Men believe they are ready to win their first playoff game since their Super Bowl win in 2012.
In order to pull off an upset win though, the Giants will need to accomplish three main keys against Minnesota’s impressive squad.
New York Giants (9-7-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
- Location: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Time: Sunday, January 15th at 4:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
- SPREAD: MIN -3
- OVER/UNDER: 48
- MONEYLINE: MIN (-155), MIA (+135)
Pressure on Kirk Cousins
The Giants are as healthy as they’ve been all season with Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney expected to be ready for the team’s playoff game on Sunday. At full strength, the Giants have a chance to beat anyone left in the playoff format. Lucky for them, there’s a relatively easy way to get an edge on a quarterback like Kirk Cousins as well.
The Vikings are expected to be without their starting right tackle on Sunday and have multiple injuries along their offensive line. If New York can generate pressure on a pocket passer like Cousins, the Giants should have a great shot at pulling off the upset.
Protect the Football
New York should have won the first matchup on Christmas Eve. People will look at the 61-yard field goal as the reason for the loss, but in reality, it was because of the Giants’ turnovers.
The Vikings forced two Giant turnovers in their own territory. Take away those two turnovers, and the Giants could have beaten Minnesota by at least two scores earlier this season. Daniel Jones has done a great job of protecting the football all season, but if New York is to advance to the divisional round, they’ll need to continue to play safe football.
New York won nine games this season thanks to protecting the football and running the football effectively. To win on Wild Card weekend, they’ll need to do the exact same thing.
Minnesota’s offense is a prolific unit full of top-tier talents. The secret to beating a team like that is to keep their offense off the field. Clock management is a tricky key because it means you have to run the ball efficiently, but also be great on third down. The Giants have done both all season, but keeping Kirk Cousins off the field will put pressure on the quarterback and force mistakes.
Clock management works both ways. Keeping the defense on the field gets them tired later in the game while adding rust to a good offense.
Brian Daboll’s squad will need to do both if they are to advance on Sunday.