The New York Giants are back in the postseason for the first time in seven seasons.
While the celebrations have lasted far longer than two weeks, the G-Men now must refocus and prepare for their playoff battle against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s not the first time these two teams will face each other this season either.
On Christmas Eve, Minnesota beat New York on a last-second field goal to secure the NFC North and a home playoff game. Now, less than a month later, the Giants are back in Minneapolis with a chance of winning their first playoff game since their Super Bowl win in 2012.
Games that feature teams that face off again after playing in the regular season are always tricky to predict. The Giants have had two decades’ worth of evidence that has shown both merits and downsides to facing a team again.
In 2002, the Giants lost to San Francisco on opening day and ended up losing to those same 49ers in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The same happened in 2016 when Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. lost to the Packers both in the regular season and the playoffs.
There is evidence to support losing to teams and coming back to beating them weeks later does work though. In 2007 the Giants lost regular season matchups to the Cowboys (swept) and Packers but ended up beating both teams on their way to the franchise’s third championship.
The same thing happened again in 2011 when New York lost regular season matchups to the 49ers and Packers. The Giants ended up beating both teams on their road to another title.
It’s always difficult to predict how rematches go because historical context shows two different sides of the coin. Injuries and referees usually play a part in an outcome like this. The Giants and Vikings have also had a rich playoff history against each other.
New York is 2-1 against Minnesota in the postseason. Their wins in 1993 and the 2000 NFC Title game are legendary in Giant lore while the Vikings’ 1997 wild card win gave Minnesota an edge there.
Homefield advantage matters in the NFL, and the Vikings will certainly have an edge in that regard, but when it comes to regular season rematches in the postseason, it’s as large a coin flip as you will find.