As part of our expanded Vikings playoff coverage this week, we will answer daily reader questions. You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them to @BenGoessling on Twitter.
Q: With all the injuries to the offensive line, how worried should we be about pass protection, especially given how much the Giants blitzed in the first meeting? —Karl Trittin
Thanks for the question, Karl. I think this is the key to the game on Sunday. The Vikings will have Garrett Bradbury back at center, which should help them get organized along the line of scrimmage and could provide help with a screen game that's been more effective in recent weeks. Bradbury said Friday he's got no lingering concerns about his back injury, adding his smooth recovery from a fully-padded practice on Thursday helped his confidence.
But I still expect the Giants to test the right side of the Vikings' line with Brian O'Neill out, to see how Bradbury, right guard Ed Ingram and O'Neill's replacement (likely Oli Udoh) will handle stunts and blitzes. The Giants blitzed Kirk Cousins on 27 of his 52 dropbacks in the first meeting, according to Pro Football Focus, and they'll likely have some new things cooked up for the Vikings' line this time.
The Vikings are also expecting the Giants to play Justin Jefferson more physically in this one, after using quite a bit of off coverage on Dec. 24. With Adoree' Jackson back from a knee injury, he could press Jefferson at the line as the Giants use some of the two-man coverage that seems to have become the template against Jefferson. Throwing off Cousins' timing with Jefferson aids the pass rush, as well, so look for the Vikings to find ways to get Jefferson free releases, and possibly get Dalvin Cook involved with screens and quick passes to counter the pressure.