James Bettcher, Jabrill Peppers, Dalvin Cook
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

After holding the Washington Redskins to three points and 176 total yards, the New York Giants defense faces a taller task in the Minnesota Vikings. 

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The New York Giants will look to ride the momentum of their two-game winning streak this Sunday when they host the (2-2) Minnesota Vikings.

Although we’re only in October, this is a pivotal matchup that could have ramifications down the road in relation to tiebreakers if these teams are in the playoff hunt.

After struggling mightily in the first three games of the season, when they gave up a combined 94 points, the Giants defense put forth their best effort of the season last week. They suffocated the Washington Redskins offense, holding them to three points and 176 total yards while forcing four turnovers.

The defense will face a much tougher opposition this week when they face the Vikings and their third-ranked rushing offense that’s averaging 155 yards per game. The focal point of the Vikings offensive attack is running Dalvin Cook, who is the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 410 yards and has five rushing touchdowns on the season. He recorded three consecutive 100-yard rushing games until the Bears held him 35 yards last week.

Slowing down the Vikings rushing attack is a tall task for any defense and it becomes an even more daunting task when starting players are unavailable.

The Giants are extremely thin at inside linebacker. Ryan Connelly was put on IR after tearing his ACL last week, and at Wednesday practice, Alec Ogletree was unable to practice due to a hamstring injury. Additionally, Tae Davis was limited in practice due to a concussion.

The Giants did activate linebacker Josiah Tauaefa to the active roster, but depending on how many linebackers are able to suit up on Sunday, the Giants may have to go to more three safety looks and bring in Michael Thomas to go along with Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea.

The Vikings rely on their running game more than the passing game, but quarterback Kirk Cousins is capable of picking a defense apart if he’s given time.

Minnesota has two game-breaking receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs who will be a tough matchup for the Giants secondary. Both Thielen and Diggs had over 100 receptions for over 1,000 receiving yards last season. But to this point of the season, they’ve been underutilized, and as a result, the Vikings currently have the 31st passing attack in the league.

Both Thielen and Diggs have expressed their disappointment in not getting enough passes their way, but that could change on Sunday as they face a Giants secondary that was vulnerable against the pass in the first three weeks of the season.

Janoris Jenkins was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two-interception performance against the Redskins. Jenkins, along with rookie DeAndre Baker, will need to come up big if they’re going to contain the Viking passing attack.

This Sunday will be a good barometer for defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense as they face a team that can be explosive via the run and pass.

Has Bettcher’s unit fixed the woes that plagued them in the first three games or was last week an aberration due to facing a subpar offense?

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.