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New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Prediction

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

The Minnesota Vikings (9-5) look to clinch a playoff spot in Sunday's primetime matchup against the New York Giants (6-8). The Vikings hold the first of two NFC wild card spots and are one game behind Green Bay for the division title. Minnesota would clinch a postseason spot with a win or tie, an Atlanta loss or tie or a Seattle win or tie.

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The Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention when the Redskins clinched the NFC East title after beating the Eagles on Saturday night. With New York set to miss the postseason for the fourth straight season, speculation on head coach Tom Coughln's future and others associated with the team will begin anew.

New York at Minnesota

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Spread: Minnesota -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Odell Beckham-less Giant passing attack

Odell Beckham Jr. will miss tonight’s game after his appeal of his one-game suspension for his actions in last week’s loss to Carolina was unsuccessful. Without Beckham in the lineup, the Giants are not only missing a guy who’s tied for the NFL lead in touchdown catches (13) and is third in yards, but also is responsible for 26 percent of the team’s receptions (91 of 348), 36 percent of the yards (1,396 of 3,900) and 41 percent of Eli Manning’s 32 TD passes on the season.

With Beckham out, Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris become the primary wide receivers, but Eli Manning also will need running back Shane Vereen and tight end Will Tye to make a sizeable impact in the passing game, unless New York is able to get more out of a running game that ranks just 25th in the league and has managed a total of four rushing touchdowns all season. To make matters worse, the Giants have to do without its best offensive weapon against a Vikings defense that ranks among the top 10  in the league in points allowed (19.4, tied for 8th). 

2. Teddy Bridgewater taking over as a franchise QB

Bridgewater had the best individual performance of his young NFL career. Bridgewater threw for four touchdowns, ran in one score and only had three incompletions.

The former Louisville standout has played with the label of a "game manager" all season, which is fine considering Minnesota's potential playoff berth. But he proved that he's a franchise quarterback last Sunday and should be capable of another strong performance against a struggling Giants secondary.

3. Adrian Peterson looking to break out of sub-100-yard slump

Despite leading the league in rushing, Peterson has not reached the 100-yard mark in each of his last three games. Peterson was limited to eight carries for 18 yards during a Dec. 6 loss to Seattle before rushing for 69 yards on 23 attempts against Arizona and 63 on 18 against Chicago.

The Giants’ rushing defense has been solid, but hasn't faced a running back nearly as talented as Peterson – who is still arguably the best in the NFL even at 30 years old. The former MVP should bounce back with a big game on Sunday.

Final Analysis

Minnesota should secure a playoff spot in Sunday's game. After losing three of its last four games, the Vikings returned to form against Chicago in Week 15 and once again looked like a complete team.

Teddy Bridgewater should provide another strong performance against a weak Giants secondary while the Vikings’ defense pressures Eli Manning and forces mistakes.

Prediction: Vikings 27, Giants 17

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.