Giants - Vikings 2023 NFL Wild Card preview and prediction

Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Justin Jefferson, and Kirk Cousins
Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Justin Jefferson, and Kirk Cousins / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Now things get fun.

The Giants (9-7-1) are headed to the playoffs — their first appearance since the 2016 season. They’ll travel to face the Minnesota Vikings (13-4).

Here’s everything you need to know heading into the game.

Rested and ready

Brian Daboll played things safe in the Giants’ season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Essentially, if any player meant anything to New York … they didn’t sniff the field. Literally. The Giants sat all but three starters — Landon Collins, Nick McCloud and Evan Neal. Third-string quarterback Davis Webb made the start under center.

The result was expected, although the Giants gave it their all. The Giants lost to Philadelphia, 22-16. The benefit, obviously, is that they’re as healthy as they’re going to be for next Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

Funny seeing you again

The Giants faced the Vikings earlier this year. Actually, it came on Christmas Eve. The Giants gave Minnesota everything they had, coming up just short. Seriously. Just short. It took a 61-yard (career long), game-winning field goal as time expired from Greg Joseph for the Vikings to sneak past New York.

Key thing to remember about that first Giants-Vikings battle: New York was without two key pieces on defense in safety Xavier McKinney and cornerback Adoree' Jackson. Both should play next weekend.

Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) drops back to pass during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium.
Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) drops back to pass during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Establishing himself as The Guy

This has been, undeniably, the best season of quarterback Daniel Jones’ career. There isn’t much around the fourth-year passer in terms of talent. His steadying presence and ability to elevate those around him is a huge reason why the Giants are in the postseason.

Jones completed 67.2 percent of his passes (career-best) for 3,205 yards (career-best), 15 touchdowns and five interceptions (career-low). He also set personal bests in rushing yards (708) and rushing touchdowns (seven).

The Giants will do whatever they can to bring Jones back and it’s hard to imagine him not returning as New York’s starter in 2023. The cost at which Jones returns, though, could be greatly impacted by how he plays against the Vikings.

Jones can earn himself quite a bit more if he gets the Giants a victory.

Contain the uncontainable

Before the Giants’ first meeting with the Vikings, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale called Justin Jefferson one of the two best receivers in the NFL — and he wasn’t No. 2. Jefferson backed up that claim by catching 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

If the Giants want to beat Minnesota, they have to find a way to better contain Jefferson. You like their chances a little more than before because McKinney is back at safety and the expectation is Jackson, the Giants’ top corner, returns as well. Jackson was playing at a Pro Bowl level before injuring his knee in the Giants’ loss to the Detroit Lions.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson celebrates a first down against the New York Giants.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson celebrates a first down against the New York Giants. / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction

The Giants came close to exposing the Vikings as being worse than what their record indicated earlier this year. Actually, they still might have. It took an answered prayer off the leg of Joseph for Minnesota to beat an undermanned, banged-up Giants team.

The Giants have played every game the same this season: They drag their competition into the deep end and see if they can win. They embrace winning ugly. It nearly worked the first go around.

The Giants are rested and healthier now than they were there. The key to this one is Jefferson. Big Blue must contain him. This game is theirs if they can.

GIANTS 23, VIKINGS 21