Site expert Charles “Chuck” Vitolo gives you his weekly New York Giants prediction in this week five edition of ‘Chuck’s corner’.
Well, Chuck’s corner (and the Giants, not coincidentally) is/are smoking hot folks. After the low-point of the season in an embarrassing, deflating home loss to the Buffalo Bills in week two, the New York Giants are right back in the mix after pulling off two straight wins (both of which I predicted, NBD).
However, as I detailed in my pre-season post about the Giants’ 2019 schedule, this is where the team is going to start to see much-stiffer competition. It starts this week against the struggling Minnesota Vikings, who are going to be extremely motivated to come into Metlife and get a win to prevent falling to 2-3. In my pre-season game-by-game predictions I circled this as my ‘upset of the year’ for the Giants, but things change over the span of a month in the NFL. We’ll have to see by the end of this if I still have the guts to call that.
Heavy turmoil surrounds the Vikings’ offense right now, namely in the forms of Stefon Diggs and Kirk Cousins. Diggs is somehow unhappy, despite being massively-overpaid after the Vikings broke him into the league as a fifth-round draft pick in 2015. One would think that getting paid over 14-million dollars a year despite only having one 1,000-yard season (and it was 1,021 yards, at that) would leave even the grimmest fellow beaming with happiness – apparently that is the effect that Kirk Cousins can have on a man, though.
Cousins finds himself at the epicenter of all the criticism surrounding the Vikings, as his statistics have fallen off a cliff in 2019. Kirk actually put up impressive numbers in his first year as the Vikings signal-caller in 2018, as it was just enough to call off the pitchforks despite numerous let down games in key spots. Vikings fans are’t having it this year though, and can you blame them? Mike Zimmer’s Vikings are an incredible 0-12 against teams with a winning record in outdoor games since 2016.
Now, obviously not all of that can be put on Cousins as he has only been there for 20 games. Still though, the stat is indicative of his career in most ways, as the quarterback is a lowly 12-25-1 in road games in his career overall. He will have runningback Dalvin Cook to lean on once again today, as the former Florida State Seminole is enjoying a breakout campaign in 2019 to the tune of a 5.8 yards-per-carry average.
The Big Blue defense limps into this game severely banged up at the linebacker position. That could spell trouble for the unit, as the Vikings could look to win in the trenches and pound Cook in the runningback all day long. The ‘D’ is coming off it’s best effort of the season- albeit against the Redskins- and is looking to keep the momentum flowing after giving up just six-total points in the last six quarters they’ve played.
This will be a monster test for rookie Daniel Jones, as it’s going to be intriguing to see how he responds to being a heavy home underdog in a must win football game. Hopefully he continues to check all the boxes, and shows off his ability to be a leader and inspire his team in a humongous football game. It would obviously have been nice to have Saquon Barkley to roll out against this scary Vikings defense, but Wayne Gallman showed he can be more than serviceable in his dominant performance last week.
The Giants are somehow a 5.5-point underdog at home in this contest, despite both teams coming into the matchup at 2-2. That might not be a great indication of what’s about the happen today, as Vegas is seemingly begging you to bet on the Giants here.
X-Factor of the week
I’m going to go with one of our young pups who has struggled-mightily in most of his first four career games – cornerback Deandre Baker. After putting together one of the lowest Pro Football Focus grades I’ve ever seen in his first two professional contests, Baker has bounced-back nicely in his last two games. The rookie was part of a secondary that allowed only 49 yards to Redskins receivers last week.
He’ll be facing an entirely different level of competition this week, as the Vikings trot out one of the best receiving duos in football. However, neither of those two are especially big. With Janoris Jenkins expected to shadow Stefon Diggs for most for most of the game (as Adam Thielen works mainly out of the slot), I expect Baker to be able to hang with Thielen and the other mix of wide-outs that will be thrown at him.
This is no disrespect to Thielen, who is clearly one of the best in the business, but Baker thrives on press coverage. If defensive coordinator James Bettcher lets operate in that way, I think he can have some success and at least slow down his opposition – something that will go along way towards winning this football game. We don’t need a shutdown performance, or multiple interceptions for Baker to end up being a strong ‘X-factor’ – just a serviceable game.
Welp, I hate to type these words folks, but I really just don’t see the Giants pulling this one off today folks. Now, do I think it will be a blowout? Absolutely not. I expect this to be a close, back and forth game, and I even would think about taking the Giants with the 5.5 points. However, this Vikings team is just about fully-healthy, and figures to eventually blossom into one of the best teams in the NFC this year.
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That could start against the Giants, as everyone except the totally-inept Washington Redskins has had a field day on this defense. While Kirk Cousins has shown himself to be mediocre both on the road, and against good teams (especially with good defenses), the Giants still don’t figure to feature the latter.
While I’m extremely encouraged with the defenses effort over the past six-quarters, I just don’t see them doing enough to keep enough points off the board to pull out a win today. I think ‘Danny Dimes’ and company will move the football and score points, but they’ll come up just short due to missing Saquon and the defense having numerous injuries.
I’ve gotta be neutral when making these predictions, unfortunately. Otherwise what would be the point of reading them? Believe me, no one hopes I’m wrong on this more than me.
I see this one ending up 31-27 Vikings, in what should actually serve as an encouraging effort from our young ball-club, though.
YTD Predictions: 3-1 (75%)