Eli Manning will be without top wideout Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday when the New York Giants continue their pursuit of the NFC East title with a road tilt versus the Minnesota Vikings. Manning found Beckham with his career-high 32nd touchdown pass last week, but the Giants’ spirited rally came up short in a 38-35 setback to undefeated Carolina.
The testy matchup led to the one-game suspension of Beckham, who was flagged three times for unnecessary roughness against Panthers cornerback Josh Norman – with one altercation coming after a helmet-to-helmet hit where neither competitor was involved in the play. Replacing Beckham will be a tall task for the Giants, as the second-year star leads the team in receptions (91), yards (1,396) and touchdowns (13). “Outside of Eli Manning, (Beckham’s) their best player,” said Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, who told reporters that he texted his support for the wideout and didn’t think his actions warranted a suspension. Peterson sprained his left ankle in last week’s 38-17 victory over NFC North rival Chicago, but the NFL’s leading rusher said he expects to play Sunday as Minnesota bids for a playoff berth.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: The Vikings opened as 6.5-point favorites, but it was the Giants who got the early support, moving the line to Vikings -5. Since then however, the line has come back to the Vikes and is back at the opening number. The total has been bet down a point-and-a-half from 46 to 44.5
Giants – DE G. Selvie (probable Sunday, concussion), RB O. Darkwa (probable Sunday, illness), T E. FLowers (probable Sunday, illness), WR D. Harris (questionable Sunday, knee), CB J. Hosley (questionable Sunday, undisclosed), LB D. Kennard (out Sunday, hamstring), S C. Taylor (out Sunday, concussion), WR O. Beckham (out Sunday, suspension), DT M. Kuhn (I-R, knee), LB J. Morris (I-R, quadricep), FB N. Whitlock (I-R, knee).
Vikings – WR C. Johnson (probable Sunday, ankle), RB J. McKinnon (probable Sunday, concussion), CB J. Robinson (probable Sunday, concussion), TE R. Ellison (probable Sunday, ankle), DE E. Griffen (probable Sunday, shoulder), DT L. Joseph (probable Sunday, foot), S H. Smith (probable Sunday, hamstring), LB A. Barr (probable Sunday, groin), RB A. Peterson (probable Sunday, ankle), C J. Sullivan (questionable Sunday, back), DE S. Crichton (I-R, concussion).
WEATHER REPORT: It will be a clear but chilly night for football in Minnesota. Temperatures will hover around a fridgid 20 degrees for the game, with a six-to-eight mile per hour wind blowing across the field from north to south.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Giants (0) – Vikings (-1.5) + home field (-3) = Vikings -4.5
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Adrian Peterson, talking about the recent improvement of QB Teddy Bridgewater: ?These last two weeks, I’ve seen a different look in his eyes. I really don’t have to say much to him. Meanwhile, the betting markets moved against the Giants two full points when Odell Beckham Jr?s one game suspension was announced.”- Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE GIANTS (6-8, 8-5-1 ATS, 9-5 O/U): Rashad Jennings became the first New York running back to rush for a triple-digit yardage total this season when he rolled up 107 versus the Panthers. The 30-year-old, who found the end zone for the first time since Week 4, has rushed 38 times for 188 yards in the last two contests after mustering just 28 yards total in the previous two. Wide receiver Rueben Randle, who should see an uptick in targets with Beckham suspended, has scored in back-to-back contests and four of his last six.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (9-5, 11-3 ATS, 3-10-1 O/U): Should Green Bay falter against Arizona earlier in the day, Minnesota’s contest on Sunday night would be rendered somewhat meaningless ahead of a pivotal Week 17 showdown with the Packers for the NFC North title. While Mike Zimmer admitted he would like to “be smart” in his approach, the coach expressed more of a desire to protect his players that are dealing with slight injuries. Teddy Bridgewater has been heating up of late, throwing for 335 yards against Arizona in Week 14 before recording a career-best five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) versus the Bears.
* Giants are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games in December.
* Vikings are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games in December.
* Over is 4-1 in Giants last 5 vs. NFC.
* Under is 11-3-1 in Vikings last 15 games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-five percent of bettors are siding with the Giants in this NFC matchup. As for the total, 64 percent of wagers are on the over.