Giants vs Vikings Wild Card Picks and Predictions: Hockenson Has an Encore Against Big Blue

When the Giants and Vikings squared off in Week 16, Minnesota tight end T.J. Hockenson exploded for 13 catches, 109 yards, and two scores. In a mismatch for New York, our NFL picks like Hock to find the paint again.

Last Updated: Jan 15, 2023 1:33 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

After a season full of Houdini-like escapes, the Minnesota Vikings are the rare 13-win team with lots to prove as they face the dangerous New York Giants in the Wild Card round on Sunday.

The Vikings wrapped up the regular season with a 29-13 win over the Chicago Bears, but questions linger over how Kirk Cousins and a banged-up offensive line will handle the postseason pressure.

Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, the Giants overcame a midseason wobble and should be fresh here after resting Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and several other starters in Week 18. After going toe-to-toe with Minnesota in a 27-24 Week 16 loss, Brian Daboll’s team has a shot at payback here. 

Learn more in our free Giants vs. Vikings NFL picks and predictions ahead of this Sunday, January 15 showdown, and check out our Giants vs. Vikings props for more.

Giants vs Vikings best odds

Giants vs Vikings picks and predictions

Going into this season, Justin Jefferson was clear that he wanted to be considered the best receiver in the NFL. With more than 1,800 receiving yards this season, Jefferson delivered on his goal — but now, more than ever, he’s the focus of every opponent’s game plan. 

Even so, the Giants had no answers for Jefferson in Week 16. He pulled in 12 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown, torching a depleted New York secondary. But the Giants will have taken a long look at the film from that Christmas Eve battle, and I expect double coverage against Jefferson all afternoon. 

While Daboll’s secondary is looking healthier, with Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson both set to return, it’s still a good bet that the Giants’ defense will be shading towards Kirk Cousins’ top target.

That brings us to T.J. Hockenson, the Vikings’ tight end and red-zone threat, and this is exactly the type of matchup that Minnesota had in mind when it landed him in a trade with the Lions in November.

If New York dares Cousins to throw to someone other than Jefferson, Hockenson can expect something close to the 16 targets he saw against the G-Men in their prior meeting. He scored two touchdowns that afternoon and has an athleticism edge over the visitors’ linebackers that might be one of Sunday’s biggest X-factors.

Hockenson will be a key outlet for Cousins against a blitz-happy New York defense — and even if he doesn’t have a monster day in terms of yardage, I like Hockenson to create a mismatch for a touchdown.

My best bet: T.J. Hockenson anytime touchdown (+235)

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Giants vs Vikings spread analysis

The Vikings enter this Wild Card clash as the favorites, with home-field advantage and a far superior regular season record, but that only translates to a 3.5-point line. 

There’s a good reason for that, though. Minnesota’s record is inflated by a historically good run in close contests (they’re 11-0 in one-score games this season) and the Vikings are preparing to face the Giants with an injury-ravaged offensive line.

Minnesota center Garrett Bradbury is expected to return for the hosts but hasn’t played since Week 13, and it’s also scrambling to fill the void left by injured right tackle Brian O’Neill. New York was able to pressure Cousins in Week 16 and Kayvon Thibodeaux could have a field day if the hosts are shaky up front.

The value in taking the points with the Giants, who have covered the spread in their last four games, also stems from how effectively they shut down Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota ground game in that prior meeting, allowing just 83 rushing yards. Cousins threw 48 times and a repeat of that doesn’t feel sustainable for the Vikings. 

Of course, the prospect of postseason debut nerves for Daniel Jones has to be taken into account, but he’ll have good memories of the Christmas Eve visit to U.S. Bank Stadium, where he threw for 334 yards, his second-highest output of the season.

Giants vs Vikings Over/Under analysis

These teams’ Week 16 matchup would have hit the Over on this 47.5-point line, but the two quarterbacks combined for 64 completions that afternoon. It feels like Sunday’s battle will see the rushing attacks featured more prominently.

The Giants ran the ball 37 times for 212 yards against the Colts two weeks ago, with Jones attempting 24 passes. That seems closer to the pass-run balance for a tense Wild Card showdown.

Even so, the numbers trend towards the Over. It’s been a winner in Minnesota’s last six home games against a team with a winning road record and it’s 5-0-1 in New York’s last six games on FieldTurf.

If you’re leaning towards the Under, it’s likely because of the Giants’ front seven and their edge over a Vikings offensive line that could be out of sync after all the injury woes. Cousins has struggled when under siege, and New York blitzed on a league-high 44.8% of their defensive snaps this season.

Giants vs Vikings same-game parlay

Giants +3.5

Barkley Over 72.5 rushing yards

Barkley anytime touchdown

The Giants have gotten more production out of their receivers than anyone could have anticipated this season, with Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins emerging as key targets in Brian Daboll’s offense. But, in the heat of the playoff cauldron, I expect New York to lean on the running game on Sunday — and that sets up Saquon Barkley for a monster day.

With the Giants shaping up as a dangerous road underdog, this same-game parlay pairs a big game from Barkley with New York covering a small spread. The extra half-point is a nice cushion in a showdown that could well come down to a last-gasp field goal.

Barkley ran for 84 yards and a touchdown in the Week 16 meeting in Minnesota, and this Vikings defense allowed over 120 rushing yards a game during the regular season. The Giants have what it takes to keep the score close, with the visitors primed to cash in on the hosts’ offensive line issues and shaky special teams unit.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

Giants vs Vikings betting trend to know

The Vikings served up some high-scoring games in the second half of the season, and the Over has hit in six of their last seven games. Find more NFL betting trends for Giants vs. Vikings.

Giants vs Vikings game info

Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Date: Sunday, January 15, 2023
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Vikings -2.5, 47.5

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