The Vikings Defense Faces a Challenge in the Giants Offense

Vikings Defense Faces a Challenge
Dec 18, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) attempts a pass against the Washington Commanders during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings defense has not been good in 2022, there is no sugarcoating that. Ed Donatell’s group has been the greatest bugaboo for this 11-3 team and it’s not close. Now, the Vikings defense faces a challenge in the New York Giants on Saturday, so we’ll find out just how good both teams can gameplan for one another.

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Last week against the Indianapolis Colts it was the Minnesota defense that allowed Kevin O’Connell’s squad an opportunity to pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history. Down 33-0 at halftime, much of what had been done against the Vikings was a byproduct of poor offensive production and ugly special teams execution. The defense holding Matt Ryan’s offense to field goals was a massive boost.

Then there was the halftime cry from veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson. “You just need five touchdowns,” he said. Minnesota’s offense trailed by 33 and the defense was set to keep it there. They wound up doing their part, and despite allowing an additional second half field goal, Donatell’s group showed up in a way they have yet to do so consistently this season.

Vikings defene faces red zone Giants
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Kris Boyd (29) reacts with middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Now facing a New York Giants team that ranks in the bottom-half of the league when it comes to yards per game, Minnesota can keep their momentum rolling. All season the Vikings have struggled to shut down opposing offenses through the bigger part of the field. Where they have buttoned down has been the final 20 yards, and their red zone defense has been among the best in the NFL.

The problem is that is the only place where the Giants shine.

The matchup on Saturday presents an opportunity to find out who does it better. The Vikings will be positioned to see if they can control Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley before getting to the red zone. Once there, they’ll need to key in on movements and actions that have allowed the Giants to have so much success when the field shrinks. For Minnesota, this could be an opportunity to take a step forward on defense as a whole, or it could help to assert dominance in regards to protecting the end zone.

What is good news for Minnesota is that the cornerback position, and secondary as a whole, looks healthier than it has in weeks. While both linebackers Brian Asamoah and Eric Kendricks found themselves limited on Tuesday, neither should be in jeopardy of missing the matchup against New York. With continued progressing health being an asset for Donatell’s defense, he’ll have near a full complement of talent for the first time in weeks.

The Giants don’t possess the greatest offensive unit Minnesota has seen this year, and that should only further any ability to capitalize on a get right opportunity. With two divisional matchups set for the final games of the season, this game against a potential playoff foe could go a long way to creating new momentum.

Minnesota has yet to blow out an opponent since Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, and while the Giants don’t appear to be a team ripe for the picking, a good performance by the Vikings defense could present the opportunity in a big way.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.