The regular season is over for the Giants after they lost to quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Eagles 22-16 on Sunday. With the win, Philly clinched the NFC East division and the NFC’s top seed.
But unlike the last five years, a long offseason isn’t in front of the Giants just yet. With their 9-7-1 record, they finished in third place in the NFC East and snatched an NFC wild card spot. They’ll be in the postseason for the first time since 2016 as the conference’s No. 6 seed.
Their official wild card opponent: the 13-4 NFC North-champion Vikings, who clinched the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 3 seed and just beat the Giants with a game-winning 61-yard field goal on Christmas Eve.
It’s the organization’s biggest game in over a half-decade. And a few things will need to occur if the Giants want to get revenge and notch their first playoff victory since Super Bowl 46.
The Vikings finished the regular season as one of the top passing teams in the NFL (361.5 yards per game), so New York needs to get healthier in the secondary and lock in after finishing as a middle-of-the-road defensive backfield (214.4 yards allowed per game).
If the Giants want to combat the dangerous Kirk Cousins-Justin Jefferson connection, they’ll need to return Adoree’ Jackson, their top cornerback, to the lineup. A knee injury sidelined Jackson for the final seven games of the season but he is back practicing and trending in the right direction. In a perfect world, he will return to the field next weekend to assist a secondary that just brought back another talented player in safety Xavier McKinney, who missed seven games with a hand injury.
But just like how the Giants need to defend the pass, they’ll also need to take advantage of a weak Vikings secondary. The Vikings are allowing 265.6 passing yards per game (second-worst in the NFL). Quarterback Daniel Jones and his so-so slate of receivers must exploit this any way they can.
With a high-scoring opponent (the Vikings scored 24.9 points per game in the regular season), the Giants need to keep up offensively. An effective and consistent passing attack would help do the trick.
All in all, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who actually thinks the Giants are Super Bowl contenders. There are just too many talented teams in the conference. But they will absolutely have a shot against Minnesota, who needed a 61-yard field goal to defeat Big Blue only a few short weeks ago.
Unless a major injury occurs during the week, expect the Giants to be in this game until the very end. The first playoff win in over a decade could be on the horizon.
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