Preview, prediction, what to watch for

Preview, prediction, what to watch for

An inside have a look at Sunday’s Giants-Vikings NFC wild-card matchup in Minneapolis.

Marquee matchup

Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson vs. Giants S Xavier McKinney

The Giants can reside with what stud receiver Justin Jefferson did to them (12-133, one TD) in Week 16, They can’t reside with what Hockenson did to them (12-109, two TDs), which is why head coach Brian Daboll stated Hockenson “killed us.’’

McKinney has the perfect probability of any Giants defensive again or hybrid linebacker to stick with Hockenson. Landon Collins might additionally play a task.

“Among the best tight ends within the league, and it confirmed final time we performed him,’’ McKinney stated. “He’s actually good. We’ve simply obtained to be ready. I’ve obtained to be ready to have the ability to have that matchup towards him. I’m excited for it, it’s going to be enjoyable. I’ll be prepared.’’

T.J. HockensonGetty Photos

Xavier McKinneyAP

Paul’s decide

Simply because the Giants are accustomed to the Vikings and battled them to the wire three weeks in the past doesn’t imply the rematch will comply with the identical sample. The Giants appear to be ascending. The Vikes are an unbelievable 11-0 in one-score video games regardless of a suspect protection. Can Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley take full benefit? Right here we go.

Giants 24, Vikings 20

4 downs

Safety alert: Keep in mind when Daniel Jones was a turnover machine? He’s now a ball-security king. He tried 472 passes this season and threw simply 5 interceptions. That calculates out to an interception frequency of 1.1 %, the bottom amongst all qualifying NFL quarterbacks. Jones was much more considered with the ball than Tom Brady (1.2 %), which is kind of a uncommon feat.

Jones misplaced three fumbles this season, a superbly acceptable complete — contemplating he was sacked 44 instances and that he is among the high working threats within the league, with 120 dashing makes an attempt. The final time Jones was intercepted? Within the fourth quarter in Week 16 versus the Vikings when Jones went as soon as too typically to Isaiah Hodgins and cornerback Patrick Peterson jumped the route.

True to thyself: No defensive coordinator sends blitzes extra incessantly (42 %) than Wink Martindale, so it was no shock when he put the warmth on Kirk Cousins on a key third-and-11 that the Vikings transformed when Cousins beat the blitz and hit Jefferson for 17 yards to arrange the game-winning 61-yard subject purpose.

Cousins, in that sport, went 13-for-20 for 152 yards, selecting up 9 first downs when the Giants despatched an additional defender, in line with ESPN Stats & Data. Will Martindale make changes based mostly on that? Absolutely. Will he be a bit extra conservative within the rematch? Uncertain. It isn’t his approach.

Subsequent degree: The riff-raff are gone. Solely the robust stay. Can the Giants hold in? They had been 0-6 within the common season towards groups within the NFC playoff subject — two losses apiece to the Eagles and Cowboys, one every to the Seahawks and Vikings. (They had been 2-0 vs. the groups within the AFC subject, beating the Ravens and Jaguars). If you’re into indicators or coincidences, do this one on for dimension: The 2022 Giants scored 365 factors and allowed 371 for a point-differential of minus-6. The 2011 championship group ended the common season with a point-differential of … minus-6 (394-400).

Second time round: If you happen to imagine within the idea that the group with the perfect teaching employees has a bonus in a rematch sport, and if you happen to imagine Brian Daboll and his coordinators are the actual deal, you’ve got to be ok with what’s about to go down this weekend. The Giants tied the Commanders in early December and two weeks later beat them by eight factors. The teaching edge that day positively went to the Giants. Now comes sport No. 2 with the Vikings and first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, a protégé of Sean McVay.

“You’ll be able to inform he simply wasn’t sitting there doing nothing,’’ Martindale stated. “He was working at that system and it’s cool to look at as a result of all people research Sean’s offense. It’s cool to look at his little areas that he’s branched off in that offense, nevertheless it’s nonetheless in that very same household.’’

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