New York Giants fans think the team is winning Sunday when it faces the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round of the 2023 NFL playoffs. Big Blue View writers agree. What do NFL analysts around the country think? Let’s sample the predictions for Sunday and find out.
Would this even feel like an upset?
Of the six Wild Card games this weekend, I’m guessing the New York Giants will be the hot pick on all the national talking-head programs on the likes of ESPN, Fox Sports and NFL Network.
Kirk Cousins is 1-3 in the playoffs, and there have forever been questions about his ability to win in the big game (at least this one isn’t in primetime). The Vikings offer the third-worst scoring defense in the league and thus the worst scoring defense in the playoff field, and though they have 13 wins, 11 of those have been by a one-score margin.
That includes a Week 16 home game against these same Giants in which a spoiled 10-0 lead turned into the Vikings needing a 61-yard field goal as time expired for a 27-24 victory. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson had 12 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the game, yet the Vikings still came close to losing, in part thanks to the rushing attacks of running back Saquon Barkley (84 yards) and quarterback Daniel Jones (34 yards).
Minnesota has had weeks in which it just didn’t show up (Week 11 against Dallas and Week 17 against Green Bay), though it has largely been more of a consistent team than New York and offers a better scoring offense at 24.9 points per game.
I still like Minnesota — but this has all the makings of a game that could go either way.
Three of five analysts are picking the Giants.
The Giants have a 33 percent chance to win, per FiveThirtyEight’s formula.
Gregg Rosenthal is picking the Giants. He writes:
Kirk Cousins gets hit more than any quarterback in football. That was the case during the Vikings’ tight win over the Giants just three weeks ago and will be the case again with the Vikings on Sunday without right tackle Brian O’Neill. All season, the Giants made due with scheme over talent. But with Dexter Lawrence dominating alongside Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale can get truly wild with his blitzes and stunts. They are healthy and peaking at the right time. When the Vikings have the ball, the coaching matchup should be a fascinating back-and-forth. When the Giants have the ball, give Brian Daboll the edge.
I’ve been picking against the Giants all year as they searched for the right mix of players and cohesion. They finally found it in December. This receiver group is good enough. The Vikings played more man coverage and blitzed more late in the season, but they are ultimately a passive defense that struggles against RPOs. I hate picking the trendy upset of the week, but the Giants wanted this matchup for a reason. It will be cruel when Minnesota’s first one-score loss of the season comes when it matters most.
The Giants and Vikings just played a Week 16 thriller in Minnesota, won by the hosts 27-24 on a 61-yard field goal. The Giants’ defense has had a lot of issues against better offenses, starting with not being able to stop the run and having trouble with both inside and outside downfield coverage. The Vikings should get Justin Jefferson and all their weapons rolling again without the elements.
Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will do their best to keep the Giants in the game with plenty of running and a few big plays, but the Vikings will be able to move the ball more consistently all afternoon.
MDS’s take: Brian Daboll getting that roster to the playoffs was a great coaching achievement, but the Giants’ run ends on Sunday. The Vikings have been winning close games all year, and they’ll do it again.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 21, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: For as long as they are alive in the playoffs, the Vikings will either win by 2-4 points or lose by 20-40.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Giants 22.
Four of eight analysts are picking the Giants.
Four of six analysts are picking the Giants.
Only one of 10 analysts is picking the Giants to win.