While the New York Giants have had relative success against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones at the helm, the Minnesota Vikings present an entirely different challenge. Concerning the Vikings, the Buccaneers own the 21st ranked defense, and the Redskins the 28th ranked defense.
Minnesota sits at number six, allowing just 312.75 yards per game, but they do allow a 72.1% completion rating to opposing quarterbacks, ranking 27th. That should give Jones an advantage considering his accuracy thus far and efficiency on third downs.
Where the New York Giants might find it difficult to succeed is when they throw the ball downfield, as the Vikings rank seventh with a 5.9 pass yards per attempt. They also rank incredibly high in rushing yards per attempt with just 3.7. The Giants will, unfortunately, be without star running back Saquon Barkley to handle the load, so they will look to Wayne Gallman to supplement his loss.
Fighting for extra yards against a tough Vikings defense will be incredibly difficult, so we should expect to see Jones throwing the ball a lot and moving the chains on short completions.
Here are three New York Giants players than need to step up:
1.) Evan Engram
There is not a single linebacker in the NFL that can cover tight end, Evan Engram. The third-year player has totaled 167 receiving yards with Jones at the helm. His yards per reception skyrocketed from approximately 9 to 15 after Eli Manning was benched.
His influence will be essential in beating the Vikings, especially in the middle of the field, and creating bad matchups for opposing linebackers. He will also be a security blanket for Jones in the passing game, and we should expect to see him featured quite often.
His blocking will be necessary as well, especially for Gallman, who will find it tough to run against a stout Vikings defensive front.
2.) Daniel Jones
Next on the list is inevitably Daniel Jones. The rookie passer has faced off against decent-to-bad defenses in his first two NFL starts, but the Vikings represent an entirely different beast. They are the number one team in spending on the defensive side of the ball and will utilize those assets to put pressure on Jones and force him to make mistakes.
Luckily, head coach Pat Shurmur is familiar with their defensive scheme. Hopefully, he can dial up some unique plays to get around their strengths. Jones must stay calm and prepared for this matchup.
We should expect to see the rookie under pressure a lot and need to utilize his legs. Ultimately, it comes down to third-down conversions, which he has been extremely advantageous with in the last two weeks. He has averaged over 50% on converting on third downs, where Manning was achieving just 21%.
3.) DeAndre Baker
DeAndre Baker is one of the highlights from the last two weeks as well, bouncing back from two terrible performances to allow just five catches and 35 yards. He completely shut down Chris Godwin, who thrashed the Los Angeles Rams defense for 173 yards and two scores only one week ago.
Baker will now have to face off against Stefon Diggs, who has publicly announced his displeasure with the Vikings team. That could cause him to feel a bit overwhelmed and underappreciated, giving Baker a mental advantage. The Giants need him to step up in this big game and lockdown his opponent as he is capable of doing.