The Minnesota Vikings (9-5) look to clinch a wild-card berth with a win in Week 16 while the New York Giants (6-8) aim to keep their postseason hopes alive on "Sunday Night Football" in Minneapolis.
However, both fates could be decided before either team takes the field. The Vikings can lock up a playoff spot with a Seattle win or Atlanta loss on Sunday. Minnesota can win still the NFC North with a win on Sunday and another over the Packers in Week 17. A Washington win on Saturday evening would eliminate the Giants from playoff contention.
Adrian Peterson’s bounce-back season has paced the Vikings, who are trying for their first playoff appearance since 2012. Despite managing just 63 yards on 18 attempts in last week’s game, Peterson leads the NFL in rushing (1,314 yards) and has nine touchdowns. He’s gone over 100 yards on six occasions but hasn’t since the calendar flipped to December. Peterson is nursing a sprained ankle but is expected to play on Sunday.
Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was red-hot in last week’s 38-17 win over Chicago, completing 17 of 20 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns last week. He ran for a fifth, bringing his total 16 on the season and rebounded well from the week before where he and the Vikings turned the ball over three times.
This week, Minnesota faces a Giants defense that gives up the most yards per game of any team in the NFL (423.0). Carolina compiled 480 yards of offense and 38 points against New York last week, the sixth time Tom Coughlin’s team has allowed at least 27 points this season.
The Giants have lost three of four and find their season on life support, needing to win both remaining games and get some help in order to win the NFC East and reach the playoffs.
The Giants erased a 28-point deficit as Eli Manning threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns before New York fell 38-35 to Carolina in Week 15. Manning leads the league’s No. 6 passing offense with 32 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. In all likelihood, Manning will surpass 4,000 passing yards for the fifth time in his career in Week 16.
If Washington loses on Saturday night the Giants will look to keep hope alive without top receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was suspended one game for his conduct last week’s loss including three personal foul penalties. Beckham ranks No. 3 in the NFL in receiving yards (1,396) and is tied for the league lead with 13 receiving scores. Minnesota’s No. 7 pass defense (229.5 yards per game) now goes up against a short-handed Giants air attack with Rueben Randle as the pseudo-No. 1 receiver.
New York could rely on the running game some more after rushing for 171 yards last week with Rashad Jennings totaling 107 yards on 16 carries. New York still ranks No. 25 on the ground, rushing for 93.6 yards per game.
Start Time: 8:30 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC
Betting Odds: Minnesota -6
Prediction: Minnesota has proven itself to be a formidable team led by the development of Bridgewater and comeback of Peterson. The Giants without Beckham are bereft of offensive weaponry against a solid pass defense. Vikings should win and get in, and thus eliminate New York from playoff contention, 31-16.