Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The Giants/Vikings game carries the highest game total on the slate, primarily fueled by how poor the Minnesota defense has played this season.
- T.J. Hockenson destroyed this spot in Week 16, when he was schemed short area usage to combat the elevated blitz rates from Wink Martindale and the Giants – that does not mean T.J. Hockenson is guaranteed to see increased schemed usage again!
How new york Will Try To Win ::
The Giants have just four games all season with a pass rate over expectation (PROE) above league average, typically content to let the game come to them and limit the mistakes over the first three quarters. It just so happens, however, that one of those spiked pass rate games came against the Vikings in Week 16. There’s no way of knowing for certain how the Giants will choose to attack in the second meeting between these two teams, but it stands to reason that Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka, two of the more forward-thinking game callers in the business, will have their team ready to exploit whatever edge they see in the matchup. I’m going to save the rest of that discussion for the pass game section of this write-up below.
Saquon Barkley had a bit of a dip in workload over the middle of the season but he reprised a true workhorse role over the final month of play, playing snap rates of 86%, 91%, and 79% over his final three games (he was rested in Week 18), and handling 26, 24, and 16 running back opportunities in those games (the last of which was a 38-10 dismantling of the Colts). He also saw 18 combined targets in the two competitive games during that stretch, one of which was a 10-target game against these same Vikings. Matt Breida should continue as the primary change of pace back likely with a relatively modest workload in the playoffs as each game is a win or go home endeavor. The pure rushing matchup yields a slightly below average 4.29 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Minnesota defense allowing just 4.08 yards per carry but 23.7 DK points per game to opposing backfields.
This one is a little more interesting than the field is likely to fully realize, as the Minnesota secondary has actually been playing much better than public perception over the second half of the season. Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley, the cornerback who filled in for Cam Dantzler after the latter’s injury, are two of PFF’s top five cornerbacks in coverage grades this season (albeit with games against the Patriots, Jets, Lions, Colts, Giants, Packers, and Bears on Shelley’s ledger). That leaves us with a case of “has the team been performing better against perimeter wide receivers because they are playing better football or is it a function of their opposition?” And while I would like to believe it is the latter, the reality is it is much more likely to be the former. That said, the Giants don’t exactly have world-beating talent amongst its pass-catchers, leading us to our exploration of their team. The Giants have played primarily from 11-personnel to end the season, with Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Richie James, and rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger the primary pass-catching options alongside running back Saquon Barkley. Hodgins has seen one game with the Giants with more than six targets, Slayton has not seen more than eight targets since Week 8, and Daniel Bellinger has a season-high of five looks. This brings us to Saquon Barkley and Richie James, who should be considered the primary pass game options at this point in the season. James has led the team in receiving each of the previous four games, racking up 269 yards and two touchdowns on 32 targets during that span. Barkley has been operating with a floor of five to six targets for most of the second half of the season, seeing a combined 18 targets in the two most competitive games over the last month of play (a 20-12 win over Washington and the 27-24 loss to these Vikings; the other two games were the 38-10 trouncing of the Colts and a 48-22 blowout loss to the Eagles).