New York Giants

New York Giants

New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 28: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants calls a play in the huddle against the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 28, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It has been six long, grueling years since the New York Giants last appeared in the playoffs.

The last time Big Blue was in this position, Odell Beckham Jr. and a group of Giants receivers that included Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard, were involved in the now infamous boat photo that served as a precursor of things to come days later when the Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers 38-13 in the Wild Card round.

After that game, Beckham put a gigantic hole through a wall with his fist.

Since that time it has been downhill for the Giants. Many of the faces on that 2016 Giants team are gone, including Beckham (free agent), and Eli Manning — who has since retired. The Giants have been through three head coaches since that time too.

Ben McAdoo turned into Pat Schurmur, who turned into Joe Judge, and the results were always the same: nothing good.

This season has been a renaissance for the Giants. The combination of Head Coach Brian Daboll and General Manager Joe Schoen have brought pride and toughness back to a franchise that defined success for most of its remarkable history.

Now the Giants (9-7-1) head to Minnesota for the second time in four weeks, to face a Vikings team they had a great shot at beating back in Week 16. Were it not for a Daniel Jones interception and a blocked punt, the Giants could have won that game. Instead the Vikings needed a 61-yard field goal by Greg Jospeh to put them over the top.

Will it be different this time? Let’s break it down!

  • Daniel Jones Must Continue Renissance

    Quarterback Daniel Jones has enjoyed a renaissance year, tossing for 3,205 yards, completing two-thirds of his passes and posting a TD-INT ratio of 3-1.

    Jones’ rebound is a direct connection to the magic of Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, who were quarterback whispers in Buffalo for Josh Allen all those years. Now they are doing it down in Jersey with Jones.

    If the Giants are to win this game, Jones has to take control. He has shown a great ability to both beat opponents with his arm and legs, rushing for 708 yards this season. In fact, when Jones rushes for more than 50 yards in a game, the Giants are 3-2-1.

    If Jones can cut down on the turnovers, and shred the Vikings, who give up 124 yards per game on the ground, it could be a good afternoon for Big Blue.

  • Health of Giants Defense is Key

    The Giants are getting healthy. In fact they submitted a blank injury report on Friday, meaning everyone will be ready to go. That includes corner Adoree Jackson, who will have the task of covering the likes of Vikings stud receiver Justin Jefferson.

    Jackson has held opponents to just 29 receptions and two touchdowns in 10 games. Safety Xavier McKinney, outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, left tackle Evan Neal and defensive tackle Leonard Williams were all notable full participants in practice.

    A healthy Giants team will be huge, especially at slowing down the plethora of playmakers the Vikings have on offense.

  • Will Vikings center Garrett Bradbury Play?

    The Vikings have been without Bradbury since December 4, and they surely missed him as quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked 16 times down the stretch.  Bradbury’s return Sunday is significant in protecting quarterback Kirk Cousins and setting up Dalvin Cook in the running game. A healthy Bradbury vs. a healthy Giants front seven is going to be intriguing to watch.

  • Kirk Cousins in the playoffs

    Cousins already carries a bad rap in prime time games (11-18 record overall). In the playoffs, Cousins is 1-2. A lot of people will make a big deal about Cousin’s sucess and/or failure in big spots, but if he struggles it will have to be the Giants ability to create problems up front on a banged up Vikings O-Line.

  • Run Saquon, Run

    If the Giants are going to stamp their tickets to Philadelphia, Saquon Barkley must go off. He had 84 yards rushing and a touchdown in the last match-up between these two teams. The Giants are 7-2 this year when Barkley rushes for 70-yards or more in a game. Barkley has had four 100-yard rushing efforts this year. The Giants won all four of those games.

  • Playoff Expereince of Brian Daboll vs. Kevin O'Connell

    No doubt this is a new experience for both head coaches Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell, since this is the first playoff game either takes part in as a head coach. Daboll does have a slight edge in experience having served on playoff and championship staffs at the Patriots, Alabama and Buffalo Bills. Plus, the Giants staff boasts coaches with playoff experience at the Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.

    As Daboll said earlier this week, playoff experience only lends itself to so much. The playoff experience is gained by playing the game and executing the best.

  • Prediction Time

    The Giants will win this game if they execute on all cylinders and make virtually no mistakes; at least the big mistakes anyway. That means they can’t turn it over, have a blocked punt, miss a field goal. Anything of the ilk could come back to haunt them.

    The Vikings give up a lot of chunk plays on defense, and can be had. The Giants have to be smart against the Vikings aggressive secondary inside the 20’s.

    Defensively, pressuring Kirk Cousins is key, and obviously containing Justin Jefferson is paramount. Of course Jefferson will get his, the Giants just can’t allow him to have a highlight reel game.

    PICK: GIANTS 30 – VIKINGS 27.

    We go into overtime and the Giants ink one out in the best playoff game of the weekend that draws the highest television ratings.

    Kayvon Thibodeaux

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 24: Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the New York Giants takes the field before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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