As we look ahead to Sunday, there is positivity buzzing around the Giants camp, as things are starting to look up for the men in blue. Daniel Jones has dealt with adversity while showing the readiness that Dave Gettleman drafted him for, while Golden Tate also returns from suspension this week which could make this Giants offense the best we’ve seen it in a good few years. They will take on a Vikings defense that will provide challenges for Jones and the offense, particularly the defensive line featuring Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter.
Jones and the Giants offense should be able to manage though, given the drastic improvement since Jones’ debut against Tampa Bay. By putting up 32 points against the Bucs, and taking care of the Redskins by a comfortable 21-point margin, the Giants look like they can actually score a fair few points in each game. The Giants are now tied for second place in the NFC East with a 2-2 record, one game behind the Cowboys after their loss to the Saints.
This has prompted talk of a potential playoff run under the leadership of ‘Danny Dimes’. I believe this could be the game where we see if that is a genuine possibility or not. The Vikings seem to be a good team in a tough division, so if the Giants can pick up a win here, there could be a strong candidacy for at least a Wild Card spot.
The Giants defense should also be able to pick up where it left off against the Redskins and follow the Bears’ lead for the second week in a row, as the Vikings one-dimensional offense was completely shutdown by the Bears last week. The Bears showed that they were able to bring the entire offense pretty much to a halt by stopping Dalvin Cook, the league’s leading rusher going into the game. Cook is a dangerous player but the G-men can probably afford to commit extra men to stopping him, given the dysfunction in the Vikings passing game. Star wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been trying to force a trade out of Minnesota after frustrations with Kirk Cousins’ struggles throwing the ball, Adam Thielen has also voiced his discontent but to a lesser degree.
This would also appear to be a prime opportunity for the Giants secondary to put in another big performance after four interceptions last week, including two for NFC Defensive Player of the Week Janoris Jenkins and a pick-six for safety Jabrill Peppers.
The Giants look as though they will have to deal without Saquon Barkley for the second week in a row, although Head Coach Pat Shurmur didn’t rule him out of the game on Sunday. Practice has looked promising, as Barkley has seemingly been running and cutting with no visible problems.
Although Big Blue’s offense should be perfectly fine even if Barkley doesn’t return in time for Sunday, after Wayne Gallman’s impressive performance in his absence. Gallman picked up both a receiving and a rushing touchdown last week against Washington, and will be disappointed if he doesn’t get the opportunity to have a repeat showing against the Vikings.
Evan Engram has been consistently great in the passing game with or without Barkley, taking short passes for long games on multiple occasions whilst just being a great safety blanket for Jones in general. It will be interesting to see if Engram gets the same level of targets from Jones with both Tate and Sterling Shepard back and playing at wideout for the G-men. Given Engram’s current form, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to shy away from giving him the ball but we might see a few passes to Tate early to try and warm him up and ease him back into the game.
The Giants will definitely see this game as winnable despite the Vikings being tough opposition. But I don’t believe they have a stable-enough locker room right now to put together a winning performance. I don’t think this is the season where the Vikings return to the playoffs, and this is the Giants’ opportunity to make their case as one of the teams that will.
I predict the Vikings to struggle with the passing game again which, in turn, will leave Dalvin Cook outnumbered. The Giants have also been good on their opening drives so I expect them to come out of the blocks early, forcing Minnesota to turn to the passing game much more than they would like. I expect at least one touchdown off a Kirk Cousins pass this Sunday, but it will be a Giants player celebrating on the end of it!
Prediction: Giants 28, Vikings 16
Feature Picture – Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com