Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In a season initially expected to be disastrous, the Giants could clinch their first playoff berth in six years on Christmas Eve.

Big Blue will visit quarterback Kirk Cousins and the 11-3 Vikings. To reach the postseason, the Giants must defeat Minnesota while two of the following teams must lose: the Commanders, Seahawks, and Lions.

A lot needs to happen, sure. But for any playoff berth to occur at all, Daniel Jones and the Giants need to impress on the road for a second straight week.

Needless to say, this Saturday’s meeting is a crucial holiday matchup for Big Blue.

Giants at Vikings

When: Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022.
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET.
Radio: WFAN.

Giants’ keys to victory

Spread the field. The Giants need to involve various offensive weapons to overwhelm a weak Vikings secondary (31st with 278.8 yards allowed per game). Using running back Saquon Barkley in the passing game would greatly assist with this objective.

Big day for DBs. This isn’t Taylor Heinicke and Jahan Dotson (who the Giants still struggled against). This is Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, who make up one of the NFL’s top quarterback-receiver connections. With safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson still hurt, this young secondary needs to show up and show out.

Run-stopping improvement. The Giants are the third-worst run-stopping team in the league. They must improve in this area — the Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook (4.5 yards per carry) will look to construct long drives to tire out the defense.


Daniel Jones.

The young quarterback led the team to a huge victory over Washington last week but needs to keep the momentum rolling against the Vikings.

With a playoff spot on the line, every game is bigger than the previous. Let’s see how the kid responds to another major opportunity.

Did you know?

The Giants last clinched a postseason berth on Christmas Eve 2016.

At the time, Jones was a redshirt freshman at Duke, head coach Brian Daboll was the Patriots’ tight ends coach, general manager Joe Schoen was the Dolphins’ director of player personnel, and rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux was a high school sophomore.

The only players from the 2016 roster who are on the current roster are wide receiver Sterling Shepard and safety Landon Collins, and the latter was out of New York for three full seasons (2019-21).

The pick

The Giants beat the Commanders even without their two best defensive backs (McKinney and Jackson). But the defense will have a much bigger task this week.

The Vikings sport one of the league’s top quarterback-receiver connections with Cousins and Jefferson. That’s awful news for a Giants secondary that still allowed Washington’s Taylor Heinicke to throw for nearly 250 yards last week.

Expect Minnesota to find success in the passing game and put points on the board early. From there, the Giants shouldn’t be equipped to construct any big comeback. Vikings 31, Giants 20.

Playoff scenarios

As alluded to previously, the following must occur for the Giants to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday:

  • Giants win, Commanders lose, Seahawks lose OR
  • Giants win, Commanders lose, Lions lose OR
  • Giants win, Seahawks lose, Lions lose

Two of those three teams (the Commanders, Seahawks, and Lions) losing on Saturday is not an impossible scenario. The Commanders face the NFC West-champion 49ers, the Seahawks face the AFC West-champion Chiefs, and the Lions face a Panthers team that’s won three of five.

The red-hot Lions losing might be a stretch, but there’s a chance the Commanders and Seahawks don’t match up with their talented opponents, both of which are headed to the playoffs.

But above all, the Giants need to win. Nothing else will matter for a Week 16 playoff berth if Big Blue doesn’t outplay Minnesota on the road.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.