Get the feeling after all this Vikings angst, their lagging passing attack is going to erupt in a big way? There are no glaring weaknesses for Daniel Jones to exploit with this defense he is about to face. And it remains to be seen if Dalvin Cook will be stopped.
Vikings 27, Giants 16
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook vs. Giants inside linebackers David Mayo, Nate Stupar and Josiah Tauaefa
Cook against who, who and who? It has come to this for a defense alarmingly short-handed at this spot. Starters Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Ryan Connelly (on injured reserve with a knee injury) are out, as is Tae Davis (concussion) making a thin group downright emaciated. Cook already has 410 yards in four games — only Christian McCaffrey (411) has more, barely — and no one has more than Cook’s five rushing touchdowns. Mayo was claimed off waivers Sept. 1 and started five games in four years for the Panthers. Tauaefa, a rookie, was signed off the practice squad, and Stupar, cut in August, is best-served playing on special teams. Mayo (team-high eight tackles) did play well last week.
“I will give him some props because he came in and he played very fast,’’ defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. Look for safety Jabrill Peppers to line up some at linebacker.
Don’t believe the hype: Sure, the Vikings are ranked 31st in passing offense. It has regressed to the point Kirk Cousins apologized for not getting the ball to receiver Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs, ticked off, was a no-show at practice one day this week.
The Giants aren’t buying it, though.
“They’re 31st for a reason — obviously, they try to focus on the run game,’’ safety Antoine Bethea said. “Obviously, they’ve expressed some concerns about that, so we definitely can be ready for them to throw the ball a little more.’’
The Giants will not be caught off-guard.
“Well, we know they’re going to take some shots this week,’’ echoed safety Jabrill Peppers.
Power play: Many of the Giants, including starting center Jon Halapio, did not know Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph was a Giants draft pick. Joseph was a second-round selection in 2010 and spent his first four NFL seasons with the Giants before signing with Minnesota, where he has thrived and become one of the league’s top run-stoppers.
“The dude is strong,’’ Halapio said. “He is fast, too. People underestimate his quickness because he is so big. He has some athleticism to him, but definitely, his strength is his strength. He’s everything you want in a nose guard. I definitely have my hands full with him.’’
Midstream adjustments: Give credit to defensive coordinator James Bettcher for making changes after his unit was knocked around the first two games. Rather than have Janoris Jenkins travel with the top receiver, Bettcher put Jenkins on one side of the field and rookie DeAndre Baker on the other, simplifying where the starting cornerbacks lined up each play. Next, Bettcher moved Peppers closer to the line of scrimmage, into a linebacker-type role, adding quickness to the interior of the defense. In the first 10 quarters of the season, the Giants allowed 91 points. In the past six quarters, the Giants allowed six points.
Once a Viking … Here is a signing that accomplished exactly what it was intended to do. Mike Remmers, a seven-year veteran, came aboard on a one-year deal to fix the unsolvable puzzle that was the right tackle position.
“He’s playing as I expected — he’s a smart, tough, aggressive, player,’’ offensive line coach Hal Hunter said. Before signing with the Giants, Remmers spent two years with the Vikings, starting 27 games.
“Mike is a very crafty veteran, he changes up sets, he’s athletic — I’ve been really impressed with him,’’ Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Mike was a great teammate here, a really good player for us. He got hurt a little bit, but I really like Mike. I’m glad to see he’s doing well.’’