NY Giants (+3.0) @ Minnesota
Power rankings: NY Giants 17, Minnesota 23
Spread update: This line has moved toward the model. The Giants are now 2.5 point favorites.
Keys to the game: The Giants offense sits at 10th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play, truly impressive statistics given the offensive personnel. Although Daniel Jones has some rushing ability, he finished the season 17th in PFF grades while completing 67.2% of his passes and gaining 6.8 yards per attempt. The offensive line has one of the best tackles in the league in LT Andrew Thomas, but the other four spots are massive weaknesses. Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Daniel Bellinger, Richie James Jr, and of course, Saquon Barkley, make up a decent collection of receivers, but there certainly isn't a star in the passing game. Barkley carries a big name as a runner, but he was 22nd in PFF rushing grades, 30th in yards per attempt, and 39th in yards after contact per attempt. The Giants have been doing well offensively for far too long to deny the fact that they're a potent offense that appears to have hit the jackpot in the coaching category. They're up against a Vikings defense that ranks 27th in DVOA and 16th in EPA/play. Minnesota has an impressive passing trio between Za'Darius Smith (edge), Danielle Hunter (edge), and Dalvin Tomlinson (tackle), but they rank 24th in pressure rate (19.5%) this season. Even still, any of the 3 will have an advantage whenever they're lined up against not-Andrew Thomas. The secondary could be without Cameron Dantzler (ankle/personal), who is apparently dealing with a serious personal issue and didn't practice this week. They do have Patrick Peterson, who turned back the clocks to return as one of the best corners in football. Danzler has missed all sorts of time this year, leaving Minnesota to turn to 5'9 2019 6th rounder Duke Shelley, who struggled immensely in his first 3 years int he league. However, since playing a full time role in week 12, Shelley has earned a 84.9 coverage grade from PFF and is allowing a 57.9 passer rating into his coverage while only committing 1 penalty. Minnesota's biggest issue has been the declining play of both LB Eric Kendricks and S Harrison Smith, both of whom are typically beasts in coverage but had down years in 2022. On paper, it appears that the Vikings are the better side, but it's clear from the numbers that the Giants actually have the advantage.
The Vikings on offense are 20th in DVOA and 18th in EPA/play. The offensive line took a big hit when they lost RT Brian O'Neill to an Achilles injury two weeks ago, leaving them potentially venerable on the right side of the line as rookie RG Ed Ingram has struggled immensely this season. Minnesota still has strengths at LT (Christian Darrisaw, who is virtually unbeatable) and C (Garrett Bradberry), but there's enough weaknesses here for the Giants pass rush to win exploit them. The Giants are 7th in the NFL in pressure rate (24.3%). Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, both playing the tackle positions, are pass rushing beasts. Rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is a fine player himself -- if O'Neill were healthy, he'd almost certainly be neutralized. The Giants defense has issues virtually everywhere else -- they're 29th in DVOA and 28th in EPA/play. They don't have the secondary to handle Justin Jefferson, who is likely to be a problem in this matchup. As for the run game, the Vikings offense does have Dalvin Cook, but they finished the year 28th in rushing offense DVOA. The Giants, meanwhile, finished dead last in rush defense DVOA.