New York Giants vs Minnesota Vikings (1/15 @ 4:30 PM EST)
Spread: Vikings -3
Money Line: Giants +142 / Vikings -160
Overview and Betting Info
The New York Giants (9-7-1) will head to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Vikings (13-4) for the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. These two teams met on Christmas Eve, with the Vikings winning on a 61-yard field goal as time expired. The Vikings won the NFC North while the Giants secured a Wild Card spot.
The Giants are 13-4 against the spread this season and have covered six of their last seven games. They’ve gone over the total seven times, including in three of their last five games.
The Vikings are 7-9-1 versus the spread but have failed to cover four of their last four games. They have gone over the total 11 times, including in six of their last seven games.
New York Giants
The Giants secured a Wild Card spot despite losing five of their last eight games. Their offense averaged 333.9 yards and 21.5 points per game. They’ve been led by Daniel Jones, who has thrown for 3,205 yards and 15 touchdowns to go with another 708 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He’s coming off one of the best games of his season, where he scored a combined four touchdowns and completed 80% of his passes against the Colts. Jones played great against the Vikings a few weeks ago, throwing for 334 yards and a touchdown.
The Giant’s receiving corps needs more star power, with Darius Slayton (724 yards, 2 TD), Richie James (569 yards, 4 TD), and Isaiah Hodgins (392 yards, 4 TD) leading the unit. None has offered consistent play, but Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins have been on the rise to close the season. James had 166 yards and one touchdown over his last two games, while Hodgins had four touchdowns in their previous five games. We expect James to be the lead on Sunday as he has been hot and went for 90 yards in their lone game against the Vikings.
The Giants’ backfield is the lifeblood of this offense, led by a comeback season from Saquon Barkley. The veteran is fourth in the league with 295 carries for 1,312 yards to go with 10 touchdowns. He started the season looking like the top rusher in the league, but he’s averaging just 54 yards per game over their last seven. He is a receiving threat (338 yards) and is tied for the most receptions on the team (57). When Barkley or Jones aren’t running the ball, look for veteran backup Matt Breida (220 yards, 1 TD). He hasn’t seen much action, but he had an uptick in carries over the last two weeks.
The Giants’ defense allowed 358.2 yards and 21.8 points per game this season. They’ve struggled due to a run defense that is 27th in the league, allowing 139.5 yards per game. Their line has been led by the play of Dexter Lawrence (7.5 sacks, 7 TFL). The tackle led the team in sacks and added another last week. The Giants may also get linebacker Azeez Ojulari (5.5 sacks) back for this weekend’s matchup, which would be a considerable boost. The second-year player had 5.5 sacks in just six games this season. His last game came against the Vikings, where he was able to add to his sack total. The Giants’ secondary is led by safety Julian Love (124 tackles, 6 TFLs, 2 INT). He leads the team in tackles and is excellent in coverage. However, the team has little depth behind them. This was never more evident than when they played the Vikings and allowed Jefferson and Hockenson to combine for 142 yards and three touchdowns.
The Vikings clinched the NFC North despite a point differential of -3. Their offense averaged 361.5 yards and 24.9 points per game, putting them in the top ten in the league in both categories. They are led again by Kirk Cousins, who has thrown for 4,547 yards and 29 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He has been great for most of the season and gutted the Giants for 300 yards and three touchdowns in their lone matchup. He has struggled to close out the season, with two touchdowns and three interceptions over their last two games.
The Vikings’ receiving corps is led by Justin Jefferson, who leads the NFL in receptions (128) and yards (1,809) to go with eight touchdowns. He’s been incredible but has disappeared the last two weeks with just 5 receptions for 53 yards (zero TDs). Before this mini-slump, he torched the Giants a few weeks ago for 133 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson is joined by Adam Thielen (716 yards, 6 TD), KJ Osborn (650 yards, 5 TD), and TJ Hockenson (914 yards, 6 TD) to round out one of the best groups in the NFC. We’ll be watching Hockenson in particular, as he had 13 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants on Christmas Eve.
The electric Dalvin Cook leads the Vikings’ backfield. The veteran back has 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He also enjoyed an electric start to the season but has fallen off recently. After a big game against the Colts, he would go scoreless and average 52 combined yards per game over their last three. One of those games came against the Giants, where they limited him to 77 combined yards. When Cook isn’t in the backfield, Alexander Mattison (283 yards, 5 TD) will see plenty of carries. The back has been great recently, going for 54 yards and two touchdowns on ten carries last week.
The Minnesota defense is bottom three in the NFL by allowing 388.7 yards and 25.1 points per game. They’ve been decent against the run, but their pass defense ranks 31st with 265.6 yards allowed per game. They’ve benefited from a great linebacking corps that features Danielle Hunter (10.5 sacks, 12 TFLs), Za’Darius Smith (10 sacks, 15 TFLs), and Jordan Hicks (129 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 PD, 1 INT). Smith is listed as questionable after missing last week with a knee injury, so his status is up in the air. It would be a massive blow to an already lousy defense if Smith can’t go. In the secondary, the Vikings are led by Patrick Peterson (5 INT, 15 PD) and Harrison Smither (5 INT, 10 PD). Peterson is coming into this matchup hot with interceptions in two of his last three games, including one against the Giants.
Free Pick: Vikings -3
We don’t trust either of these teams very much, but we give the edge to the Vikings at home. We side with Minnesota by looking at both teams’ schedules. The Vikings have had some bad losses, but they also won five of their last seven games to secure a division championship. The Giants have been going in the opposite direction, going 2-5-1 over their previous eight games. Those two wins came against the Commanders and Colts, with the tie also coming against the Commanders. Their losses included getting crushed at home by Detroit to go with losses to each playoff team they faced. In fact, the last time they had a quality win was October 23rd, when they beat Jacksonville.
We could talk about the players and stats all day, but both of these teams are a bit of a mystery. At the end of the day, we’re trusting proven results and going with the team that has the better players.
We’re giving up the three points to take the Vikings on Sunday.