Can Danny Dimes and Saquon Barkley lead the Giants past Minnesota? Image: Getty Images
I’d be upset if there weren’t any surprises during Wild Card Weekend, which starts today. That excitement may not happen in the Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers game, and maybe not in the Los Angeles Chargers-Jacksonville Jaguars. But bettors seem convinced the week’s biggest upset will come from Brian Daboll, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and co.
How are the chances?
According to OddsChecker US, 83.3 percent of all bets on the Giants-Vikings moneyline were placed on Big Blue. 83.3 percent! That sounds absurd, but it might not be as crazy as it seems. For one, the 6-3 match has been fairly even in the past. Since 2002, six seeds have been 22-18 during Wild Card Weekend. Remember these are all street games. Not only are the three seeded players supposed to be better teams, they also have home field advantage, and yet the six seeded players mostly manage to walk away victorious.
Do you really trust the Vikings?
Second, at this point, the Vikings have been considered imposters for weeks. Every Vikings fan has heard the points difference argument. They are the only team in NFL history with 13 or more wins and a negative points difference. Heck, they’re the only team with 12 or more wins to finish on a negative points difference. They have faced multiple embarrassments on the national stage. That said, when games are tight, the Vikings tend to do very well.
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Keep it close
Somehow the Vikings are 11-0 in one-score games. They are unstoppable when the going gets tough. You’ll recall that one of those 11 wins was on a 61-yard field goal to beat the Giants in Week 16. However, the Giants are now well rested. They put their entire starting lineup to prepare for this game. The Vikings did, to an extent, too, with Kirk Cousins playing just 54 percent of offensive snaps, Justin Jefferson playing just 51 percent, and star left tackle Christian Darrisaw playing just 54. Still, it’s not a full week’s break. They tried to win. They spent important time this week preparing for the Chicago Bears. Given the Giants’ Week 18 action plan, I wouldn’t be shocked if they’ve been preparing for the Vikings for two weeks now. You’ll enter this game with a plan so elaborate Batman could have written it.
history on your side?
However, Minnesota has experience on its side. In 2021, five quarterbacks made their first playoff appearances. They went 1-4 in those games. Daniel Jones will make his first postseason appearance tomorrow. This will be Cousins’ fourth appearance (third as a starter), and his last appearance brought his first postseason win. He’s got that metaphorical chip off his shoulder and it doesn’t weigh on him anymore.
Have a dog in battle
The Vikings go into this game as a three-point favorite. Throughout the season we’ve seen bettors bet on underdogs rather than favorites in hopes of a massive payday. But if that were the case, bettors wouldn’t be flocking to the Giants, but to the Dolphins (+13.5) and Seahawks (+9.5). The fact that bettors are going to the three-point underdog Giants shows that they genuinely believe the team will emerge victorious. While I’m concerned that the Giants have only won two of their last eight games, such an outrageous odds don’t just come up out of thin air. You have to chase the money, and I think that makes the Giants’ chances of winning all the better.