Scouting the Opponent: New York Giants (Week 5)
The Vikings travel to New York on Sunday for the first time since the 2013 “Josh Freeman Game”. The Giants benched long-time starter, Eli Manning three weeks ago and have turned to their rookie QB, Daniel Jones who has thrown for 578 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a 95.9 QB Rating since taking over for Manning. Jones has looked good in his two starts against the Buccaneers and Redskins. He’s making quick decisions, moving the ball effectively, and making plays with his legs as well—which is not something the Giants have had in a long, long time.
Hopefully, the Vikings can look past the drama they’ve received surrounding Stefon Diggs this past week. The Giants have one of the worst defenses in the league and the Vikings offense should be firing on all cylinders this week. Dalvin Cook should run rampant and the duo of Diggs/Thielen should have no problem getting open. The question is…can Cousins hit them?
Three Keys to Victory
- Feed Diggs: This is not only a key to victory but a key to long-term success as the season continues on. Stefon Diggs is clearly upset with his role in the offense through four games this season—and rightfully so. He’s one of the league’s premiere route-runners and the offense isn’t as balanced right now as most would like. Cousins needs to hit Diggs early and often to not only keep him happy but to open up the rest of the offense as well.
- Bring the heat: The Vikings pass rush had a very hard time getting home last week when they traveled to Chicago, which led to unfortunate consequences throughout the remainder of the game. They couldn’t get off the field on third down and as a result of not forcing pressure, the Bears easily extended their drives. They can’t afford to do that against a rookie quarterback this week. Make him feel uncomfortable and like most rookies QBs when pressured…he’ll make mistakes.
- Stop committing stupid penalties: This is a short and sweet key. The Vikings have shot themselves in the foot in pretty much each game they’ve played already this season. If they produce a big play on offense, it comes back because of a penalty. If they produce a big play on defense, it comes back because of a penalty. At the end of the day this falls on coaching…and Mike Zimmer needs to get his team back in order.
New York Giants Offensive & Defensive Rankings
- Total Offense: 6th (403 YPG)
- Passing: 7th (274 YPG)
- Rushing: 8th (129 YPG)
- Offensive Line: 8th (7 Sacks & 26 Hits Allowed)
- Total Defense: 25th (389 YPG)
- Pass Defense: 25th (279 YPG)
- Rush Defense: 14th (109 YPG)
- Pass Rush Efficiency: 17th
New York Giants Offense
New York Giants Defense
Scouting the Opponent with Ryan Dunleavy
*Ryan is the Giants beat reporter for NJ.com and the Star Ledger. You can find him and his work on Twitter at —> @rydunleavy.
- What do you expect from Daniel Jones, in what I believe to be his first real test against an above-average defense this week? “You are right. Whether you are talking about the defensive line or Xavier Rhodes, Jones didn’t see a defense like this from the Buccaneers or Redskins. He has been an energizing force for the Giants because of the way he extends plays with his feet — whether running for first downs or creating extra time for the receivers — and the out-in-front-of-the-hands accuracy with his throws. That’s important to a YAC-heavy receiving corps like Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. But he also has struggled with turnovers, going back to the preseason. He has fumbled three times and thrown two picks in limited action. I expect more of the same. Accurate, a few shots down the field, some turnovers, some scrambling. The Vikings always seemingly had Eli Manning’s number.”
- What kind of impact do you believe Golden Tate will have in his first (meaningful) game as a Giant? “Tate and Shepard both are primarily slot receivers, which is why Tate was a strange choice as Odell Beckham’s replacement. The Giants say both Tate and Shepard can play on the perimeter and rotate through the receiver slots. But whoever is on the perimeter is not playing to his strength. I expect he will play almost the full complement of receiver snaps, however many that winds up being. No easing him back in the lineup like you would off an injury. A smart bet would five catches, 60-70 yards.”
- With Saquon Barkley out, which player outside of Daniel Jones has to have a big game for the Giants in this matchup? “Good question: I’ll take Engram on offense. He is the prototypical matchup-nightmare tight end — too fast for linebackers and too big for slot cornerbacks. Is Harrison Smith up to the challenge? His 75-yard touchdown against the Buccaneers is really the play that changed the direction of the Giants’ season so far. And, if the Giants are going to get a run game going with Wayne Gallman, Engram is going to have to help block this front. I’ll take Jabrill Peppers on defense. The Giants are short-handed at inside linebacker, which means they probably will play a lot of nickel and dime. In those sub packages, Peppers slides up from safety to linebacker.”
- Which matchup are you most looking forward to watching this week? “Vikings pass-rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter vs. Giants tackles Nate Solder and (former Viking) Mike Remmers. Solder was totally overmatched by Shaq Barrett, who had four sacks for the Buccaneers in Week 5. Then Giant-killer Ryan Kerrigan was quiet last week. The Giants have played the same five offensive linemen for every snap so far. That chemistry is important. This Giants offensive line might only be average — but that’s still the best the team has had in at least five years.”
- Give me one prediction for each team in this game as well as a final score prediction. “I’ll take 120+ rushing yards and a score for Dalvin Cook, who I think carves up the Giants rushing defense as inside linebacker Alec Ogletree remains sidelined. Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill — three high draft picks — make up the defensive front. Two more turnovers forced by the Giants defense, which had four last week against the Redskins. Forget any old NFC East familiarity between Kirk Cousins and the Giants, who have turned over nine of their defensive starters since Cousins left the Redskins. But Cousins is going to feel pressure to force the ball to disgruntled Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Look for a veteran like Janoris Jenkins to take a few chances knowing that much. Vikings win 31-23.”
- Sunday’s game marks Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones’ third career start. He’s 2-0 in his first two career starts.
- Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is 3-5 in his career against the Giants (1-3 in New York). In those starts he’s thrown for 253 YPG, 8 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 71.8 QB Rating.
- Giants WR Golden Tate will make his season debut on Sunday coming off a 4-game suspension.
- The Vikings lead the Giants 16-12 in the all-time series. The Vikings are 8-7 in New York.
- Former Vikings TE Rhett Ellison, T Mike Remmers, and Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur will face their former team this weekend.
- Vikings RB Dalvin Cook needs 40 rushing yards to pass former teammate Latavius Murray on the Vikings all-time rushing list.
- Vikings WR Stefon Diggs needs 31 receiving yards to pass Hassan Jones for 10th in franchise history.
- Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph needs 3 receptions to pass Sammy White for 7th in franchise history.
- Vikings S Harrison Smith needs 1 interception to pass Antoine Winfield for 8th in franchise history.
- Vikings S Harrison Smith needs 4 tackles to reach 600 total for his career.
- Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer needs a win on Sunday for his 50th career victory.
*For all the latest Vikings news and updates, you can follow me on Twitter at —> @Purple_Post. #SKOL