The (8-5-1) New York Giants and (11-3) Minnesota Vikings will face each other on Christmas Eve in one of the most intriguing matchups of Week 16.
Both teams are coming off dramatic victories last week. The Giants stopped a late rally by the Commanders in the final seconds, and the Vikings rallied from 33-0 down to defeat the Indianapolis Colts in the largest comeback in NFL history. Coming off a monumental win, Minnesota enters with confidence and is a heavy favorite.
It will be a tall task for Big Blue to pull off the upset especially when you factor in they’re playing a team that scored 39 points in the second half last week, and the Giants have scored more than 27 points this season.
However, we’ve learned this season that you can never count out Brian Daboll’s team. They’re a live underdog heading into this matchup and are more than capable of coming away with a shocking victory.
Here are three bold predictions for the Giants against the Vikings.
Justin Jefferson gets shut down
Jefferson leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,623 and has a realistic chance of breaking Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record 0f 1,964 set back in 2012. In the last two games, he has torched the Colts and Detroit Lions secondary to the tune of 23 receptions for 346 yards and a touchdown.
Now he’ll face New York’s 16th-rank pass defense (216.9 yards per game) that will once again be without their top cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Last week the Giants gave 105 receiving yards to Commanders rookie receiver Jahan Dotson. So you would think Jefferson would be able to feat on the Giants’ secondary.
Related: Minnesota Vikings schedule
But defensive coordinator Wink Martindale knows the Vikings’ offense goes as Jefferson goes, and he will do whatever it takes to neutralize the 23-year-old star receiver.
Whether it’s being aggressive with him at the line of scrimmage or double-team Jefferson on certain occasions, look for the defense to contain Jefferson and hold him under 75 receiving yards.
Kayvon Thibodeaux wins NFC Defensive Player of the Week again
Last week was a coming-out party for Kayvon Thibodeaux as he had the best game of his young career. His 12 tackles and a strip sack for his first career touchdown earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Prior to last week, some were down on Thibodeaux due to the fact that he only had two sacks. But now he’s poised to have a similar performance against a struggling Vikings offensive line.
So far this season, Kirk Cousins has been sacked 40 times including seven times last week against the Colts. They’ll once again be without their starting center Garrett Bradbury who will miss his third consecutive game due to a back injury.
Without the leader of their offensive line, expect Thibodeaux to be in the Viking backfield often to harass Cousins, and to take down Dalvin Cook. As a result, he’ll have his first career multi-sack game to go along with double-digit tackles and win his second consecutive NFC Defensive Player of the Week award. He’ll show that last week wasn’t an aberration, but a sign of things to come in his bright NFL future.
New York Giants drop a 30-burger
Despite having an 11-3 record, Minnesota’s point differential is only plus two, and that’s because their defense is putrid. It enters the weekend ranked 28th in points allowed at (24.9 PPG) and has allowed teams to score 30 points in four out of their last six games.
Related: New York Giants schedule
The Giants’ offense has been painful to watch at times as they’re only averaging 20.5 points per game, and have yet to score 30 points. But if there was ever a day for New York to have an offensive explosion, it would be Saturday against the Vikings and their 32nd rank defense (399.2 yards allowed a game).
Expect Saquon Barkley to have a huge game and for Daniel Jones to complete 70% of his passes as New York finally reaches the 30-point plateau.