With kickoff fast-approaching, here are a few final thoughts about tonight's game.
How to Take in Tonight's Game
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Radio: Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130
Mobile: NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Win and in
**At the time of this posting, Seattle was losing to St. Louis and Green Bay was losing to Arizona. If those outcomes hold, the Vikings will kickoff tonight having not clinched a playoff spot; a win would get the job done. Regardless of the Vikings outcome tonight, though, the Green Bay loss means that next week's Vikings-Packers game is a NFC North championship game. To clarify, the Vikings clinch a playoff spot if any one of the following happen: Vikings win tonight, Falcons loss next week, Seahawks win next week, Vikings win next week.
Joseph's return looms large
**Linval Joseph is a big man, and his return to the lineup tonight would mean big things for the Vikings defense. With WR Odell Beckham, Jr. suspended for this game, the Giants running game becomes more important. Joseph is a significant asset for the Vikings in defending the run.
Return of defensive starts should mean improvement in coverage units
If injured defensive starts Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith do return to the lineup tonight, don't be surprised if the Vikings special teams group benefit from that, as well. When starters go down, key backups must step into the lineup. Key backups are often times core special teams players. Case and point: In the first 11 games when the Vikings defense was healthy, the Vikings kickoff coverage group allowed only 26.3 yards per return and since the Big 3 have been missing that number has risen to 31.9; on punt returns, the Vikings have fallen from 2nd in the NFL through 11 games (4.8 yards allowed per return) to 12th (6.0 yards allowed per return).
Expect Giants to feature some no huddle
View images of the key contributors on the New York Giants.
**Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has mentioned multiple times this week the Giants no huddle offense, which means he's taken note of it in his film study and expects it to be a factor tonight. The Giants have utilized the no huddle all season, but the approach makes even more sense this week given the Giants are on the road and with the Vikings coming off a five-sack game against Jay Cutler. One way to slow down a pass rush is to not let the defense huddle or substitute.
The forecast for kickoff tonight calls for an air temperature of 14 degrees with a wind chill that makes it feel like 4 degrees. It will easily be the coldest game for the Vikings this season, but not in the team's history. In 1972, the Vikings had an air temp of -2 and wind chills of -19 at home against Chicago and then an air temp of 0 and wind chills of -15 against Green Bay that same season. Those are the two coldest games in franchise history. The 1970 season was also a cold one, with four games from that season in the top 10 coldest in team history. If the forecast proves correct, tonight's game will be the 9th-coldest by air temp and won't register in the top 10 by wind chill.