The Minnesota Vikings have been called frauds for the majority of the season. To some extent, the description fits the purple team. The Vikings finished the season famously with a negative point differential, and multiple advanced statistics don’t buy the Vikings as a genuine contender despite their elite 13-4 record.
One oft-mentioned weakness of the purple team is the defense, a unit that allowed a ton of yards. Only the Detroit Lions allowed more yards in the 2022 campaign.
The ‘bend but don’t break’ approach sometimes works, especially when the defense can take away the ball from the opponents and hold the team at field goals. In games where the Vikings don’t take care of the ball and lose the turnover battle, they get run over really quickly. The games against the Cowboys and Eagles come to mind.
Football Outsider’s DVOA has the Vikings as the 27th-best team in the league. Their projected win total has the NFC North team with just 6.3 as 28th. The numbers are not very high on the Vikings despite wins against some good opponents, including their playoff challengers, the Giants.
Giants Are Just as ‘Fraudulent’ as the Vikings
What the Vikings do well is playing situational football at an extremely high level, something that shows in the 11-0 record in one-score games in 2022. The team magically finds a way to be at its best in the fourth quarter every week. The consequences are epic comeback wins and close wins in ways that only Hollywood’s screenwriters could write.
A couple of weeks ago, the Vikings pulled off a close win against the Giants, ending with a franchise-record 61-yarder from kicker Greg Joseph in the final seconds. The Giants started the season red-hot with a 6-1 record. Since that incredible start, the Giants have just won three of the next ten games.
The wins came against the Colts, Texans, and Commanders. The former two are, without any doubt, two of the worst teams in the league. Winning a division game is always tough, but the win over the Commanders featured some help from the officials in the game’s final moments and a career day from fifth-overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Throughout the season, the Giants could only beat two playoff teams, the Jaguars and the Ravens. The win over Jacksonville happened before the Jaguars started to get hot when they looked like a bad team in Week 7. New York’s defense managed to stop the Jaguars in the last play of the game just inches from the goalline. The touchdowns would’ve won the game for the Jaguars, barring a missed extra point. In the last ten games, the Giants’ defense ranks 28th in EPA/play.
Both teams have some issues, so the game is hard to predict, but they have some similarities. Objectively, the two teams have a suspect defense, an inconsistent and, in most metrics, average offense, and a rookie head coach that brought a totally new culture to the franchises. Both Brian Daboll and Kevin O’Connell are offensive-minded head coaches. The Giants and the Vikings also share an elite offensive weapon. Justin Jefferson and Saquon Barkley are two of the best playmakers in the league.
Neither of the two quarterbacks has had much postseason success. Kirk Cousins won in the 2019 playoffs against a superior Saints team on the road with some elite clutch throws. Daniel Jones will play in his first career playoff game.
Despite the teams’ flaws, the Vikings are rightfully favored to win. They have homefield advantage and a better track record of beating good teams, in addition to a better record in general.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt