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NFC championship: Vikings at Giants

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 14, 2001

OF NOTE: Everything is in place for a Giants upset, but it'll come about only if New York can take advantage of the weak Minnesota defense and pressure quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The Vikings will play without safety Orlando Thomas, and despite last week's impressive defensive effort against New Orleans, this group cannot afford to lose key personnel. The Giants are not known for producing points, but few teams have struggled to score against Minnesota. If receiver Amani Toomer can play through his injury, New York should score four or five touchdowns. The Giants will look to bring Culpepper down. But the Vikings did not allow a sack against New Orleans, which had a league-high 66 during the regular season. That was at the Metrodome and the Vikes will not have the advantage of hearing the snap count today. If New York's defense fails to get to Culpepper, it will be a long day: No one in the secondary can cover Randy Moss or Cris Carter.

KEY INJURIES: Vikings -- Thomas (hamstring, shoulder) is out. CB Kenny Wright (knee) is questionable. Giants -- WR Joe Jurevicius (knee), G Glenn Parker (ribs), Toomer (ankle, knee) are questionable.

HOOPER'S PREDICTION: Giants 35, Vikes 33.

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