One prime challenge awaits the New York Jets. On the road, against a 9-2 Minnesota Vikings team, the Jets have a perfect chance to make a loud statement today.
Entering this December game, the first of the month, the Jets have delivered on their big promise of being competitive into this month of the season. Hopefully, now, they can keep winning games as a 7-4, playoff-caliber football team in this month.
A win today gives the Jets two in a row, which would be their first winning streak since the four-game run they went on in October. Especially now, at this time of the year, it is pivotal that they start to pick up momentum and get hot at the right time when it matters most in the final weeks of the regular season.
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New York Jets vs Minnesota Vikings Preview:
It will be the second start under center for Mike White. He, of course, comes off of a special outing a week ago in which he threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Jets to 31 points and a big home win. Going up against the Vikings’ last-ranked pass defense in the NFL (276.1 yards per game), White could very well be in for yet another fantastic game this afternoon.
From White’s group of pass-catchers, Tyler Conklin makes his return to Minnesota today, where he spent the first four years of his career. Conklin and company on the outside could have another day in which many are involved. With the Vikings traditionally a pass defense that sits back in zone coverage, opportunities will be there for Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, and CJ Uzomah.
On the ground, the Jets’ lead running back, Michael Carter, is doubtful (ankle) for this one. Recently-acquired James Robinson should be up after being a surprise healthy inactive last week. He made some comments, venting frustration during the week. Robinson will likely have his opportunities today and should be fired up to contribute. Also, expect continued roles for Zonovan “Bam” Knight and Ty Johnson, who were both terrific a week ago.
The lone key on the Vikings’ defense for the Jets to hone in on is their dominant edge rush duo of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Smith has 9.5 sacks, and Hunter has seven. The Jets will have a healthy George Fant back today for the first time since Week 3. It will be fascinating to see if the Jets give him or rookie Max Mitchell the start at right tackle.
On the defensive side of the football for the Jets, this fourth-ranked unit has some electrifying, elite skill talent to focus in on.
Between Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, the Jets’ awesome defense is presented with a paramount opportunity.
Starting with the ground game, the great thing is that the Jets will have a healthy Sheldon Rankins back available today after missing two games. The Jets enter this one as the 12th-ranked run defense (111.3 yards per game allowed) and must do what they can to make the Vikings one-dimensional.
If the Jets can contain the Vikings’ run game, it allows them to tee off against a hurting offensive line. The Vikings will not have their exceptional left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, for this one. On the right edge, Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, and Micheal Clemons need to all have overpowering pass rush reps.
Then, on the inside, the Vikings’ interior offensive line struggles tremendously in pass protection. In turn, even more, dominant pass rush execution has got to come from Rankins, Quinnen Williams, and, when inside, John Franklin-Myers.
If the Jets can manage the Cook and Alexander Mattison-led ground game and their awesome group of pass rushers can get home, it can very well allow them to minimize what Jefferson can do. That being said, the Jets also have the best cornerback trio in the NFL with Sauce Gardner, DJ Reed, and Michael Carter II, who are all more than capable of winning one-on-ones as well.
This is undeniably a tough task for the Jets on the road, but still one they seem to match up well in. This game will likely come down to the end and expect the Jets to win this game by a field goal, improving to 8-4.