Rally-record Vikings host Giants in possible playoff preview
NEW YORK GIANTS (8-5-1) at MINNESOTA (11-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Vikings by 3½
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Giants 10-4; Vikings 6-7-1
SERIES RECORD: Vikings lead 17-12
LAST MEETING: Vikings beat Giants 28-10, Oct. 6, 2019, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
LAST WEEK: Giants beat Commanders 20-12; Vikings beat Colts 39-36 in OT.
GIANTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (22), RUSH (6), PASS (28), SCORING (21)
GIANTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (26), RUSH (30), PASS (16), SCORING (14)
VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (28), PASS (7), SCORING (8)
VIKINGS DEFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (18), PASS (31), SCORING (28)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Giants plus-4; Vikings plus-4.
GIANTS PLAYER TO WATCH: OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux. The fifth overall draft pick had a career-high 12 tackles plus a sack that forced a fumble he recovered for a touchdown last week to beat the Commanders. He had three tackles for loss in the first quarter alone of that game and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson. The NFL leader in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,623) is the third player in history with three straight 1,600-yard seasons, all in the first three years of his career. He needs 10 yards to pass Randy Moss for the single-season Vikings record. Jefferson (4,639) is already ninth on the team’s career receiving yards list.
KEY MATCHUP: Giants RB Saquon Barkley vs. Vikings defense. Barkley needs 138 rushing yards to beat his previous single-season best, set as a rookie in 2018, but he had just 239 yards on 71 carries over the past five games plus 18 catches for 97 yards. The most individual rushing yards the Vikings have allowed this season is 90 by Jets rookie Zonovan Knight on 15 carries in Week 13.
KEY INJURIES: Thibodeaux (elbow) was limited in practice this week for the Giants, as was DT Leonard Williams (neck) and RT Evan Neal (shoulder). … CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee) has missed the past four games. He didn’t practice with the Giants on Tuesday or Wednesday. FS Xavier McKinney (hand) will likely miss his seventh consecutive game. … Vikings LB Eric Kendricks (hip) was limited in practice this week. C Garrett Bradbury (back), who has missed the past two games, did not practice on Tuesday or Wednesday.
SERIES NOTES: The Giants have won two of three playoff games against the Vikings, including the NFC championship game after the 2000 season. The NFC North champion Vikings currently hold the No. 2 seed with the Giants at No. 6, but they could wind up with a wild-card round matchup in Minnesota with some minor shuffling to the NFC standings. … The Vikings have won the past four meetings in Minnesota against the Giants, since a 2004 loss at the Metrodome. They’ve played only once at U.S. Bank Stadium, a 24-10 victory by the Vikings in 2016 on a Monday night.
STATS AND STUFF: The Giants can clinch a playoff spot this week with a win plus losses by two of their three pursuers: Detroit (at Carolina), Seattle (at Kansas City) and Washington (at San Francisco). … This is the first Saturday game for the Giants in 11 years. … Daniel Jones has a Giants QB-record 583 rushing yards this season. He’s fifth in the NFL in QB rushing. … The Giants offense has just 13 turnovers, tied with Philadelphia for the fewest in the league. … The Giants defense has 13 fumble recoveries, the second most in the league. … Giants OLB Azeez Ojulari has 3½ sacks in the past three games. … The Vikings clinched the NFC North last week, their first division title since 2017 and just their third since 2009. … The previous time the Vikings played on consecutive Saturdays was in the 1997 postseason when they beat the Giants in the wild-card round and lost at San Francisco the following week. They haven’t had back-to-back Saturdays on the regular-season schedule since 1974. … The Vikings have a plus-9 turnover margin in the fourth quarter and overtime. They have only three takeaways in their past five games. … Kirk Cousins leads NFL QBs with seven game-winning drives this year. He’s had two of his five 400-yard games for the Vikings in the past two weeks and passed Daunte Culpepper for third place in franchise history in passing yards (20,205) in his fifth season with the team. … OLB Za’Darius Smith, who leads the Vikings with 10 sacks, had two forced fumbles last week.
FANTASY TIP: Graham Gano has three games of multiple 50-plus-yard FGs for the Giants, the most in the league. He’s 15 for 16 from any distance over the past 10 games. Vikings opponents have made eight of 11 kicks from 50-plus yards this year. The Vikings have also allowed the second-most FGs (33), behind Denver (34).
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