If you're looking for a safe bet in the 2023 NFL playoffs, you might wanna steer clear of the Vikings. Not only has Minnesota been one of the most fortunate teams in league history, becoming the first to win 13 games while owning a negative point differential, but the franchise's postseason track record isn't exactly sunshine and rainbows. The purple fellas are one of 12 teams without a single Super Bowl win, and one of just two to go a combined 0-4 in the big game. More often than not, rooting for the Vikings when it matters most means gearing up for heartbreak -- and then a long winter to stew over it.
That said, these Vikings play in the Midwest, where hope springs eternal, and "Minnesota Nice" masks the inevitable sorrow. So let's play along, because truth be told, there's reason to believe this Sunday. The Vikings may not be championship material just yet, but we've got at least three good arguments for why they can -- and should -- beat the Giants on Super Wild Card Weekend:
The only thing more expensive than Jefferson's custom diamond grillz is the wideout's future contract, because he's been the MVP of this team -- and, almost literally, the NFL -- all year. Everything he does is fast and smooth, and while he's been erased in a few games (not coincidentally, those were also the Vikings' blowout losses), the Giants are not suited to contain him. Last time these sides met on Christmas Eve, he feasted to the tune of 12 catches for 133 yards and a score. Only seven teams surrender more passing yards than New York, and the Giants may still be without starting cornerback Adoree' Jackson due to injury. If Kirk Cousins is smart, he'll keep Jefferson in his sights, and the Vikings won't have much trouble pushing the ball downfield.
This certainly isn't everything, but it's something, and in the Vikings' case, it actually matters. Since Cousins' arrival in 2018, Minnesota has gone 27-14 at home, including 8-1 this year alone. And the numbers bear out a clear edge offensively: passing the ball, Kevin O'Connell's squad is more accurate, efficient and explosive when throwing at U.S. Bank Stadium, logging a 99.5 passer rating as opposed to 85.8 mark on the road, and throwing almost one-third as many picks as when they're traveling. That doesn't mean the Giants won't also enjoy the indoor conditions, but in a potential shootout on turf, you're probably more likely to count on the experienced QB and superior downfield weapons, both of which Minnesota possesses.
Potential rushing breakout
Last time the Giants met the Vikings, star running back Dalvin Cook took just 14 carries for 64 yards. He's taken just 20 carries in the two games since, and suffered a knee injury in Week 18. But only five teams are giving up more on the ground than New York, which allowed Eagles backups Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell to pick up more than 6 yards a clip in Week 18. More importantly, Cook's relief, Alexander Mattison, has seen his workload increase for three straight weeks, and is coming off a two-score performance that has him poised for additional work in the playoffs. If Minnesota gets both its backs going, the play-action game will also benefit, and the Giants will have less of their own time to put the ball in the end zone.