The Jets head into week seven sitting at .500 looking to defend their home turf once again as they square off against Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings.
After struggling between weeks two through four, the Vikings have righted the ship and won two in a row to boost themselves back near the top of the NFC North. This all comes without their stud young running back Dalvin Cook, who has been plagued with a hamstring injury for most of the season.
Stepping in his place has been veteran Latavius Murray, who churned in 24 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 27-17 win over Arizona. Though Murray has been solid filling in for Cook, the main attention has been on the dynamic duo manning the outside and slot zones.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen might be the best wide receiving one-two punch there is in the NFL. Through six games they combined for 98 catches and 1,147 yards. Diggs is a major red zone threat that loves to locate high throws and make acrobatic catches.
On the inside is Thielen. Thielen has established himself as one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, or maybe even the best wide receiver. Consistency at an elite level is what you’ll get from Thielen. He has 58 catches and 712 yards through six games this season while also posting at least 100 yards in each game up to date. He is a chain mover, an incredible route runner, and a matchup nightmare.
The biggest headline coming into Sunday’s game comes at the quarterback position. After Cousins signed his massive three year, $84 million deal with the Vikings this offseason he made it a point of emphasis to let people know that he had turned down an even bigger offer from the Jets. Now the Jets have first round pick Sam Darnold manning the offense, making the matchup even more appetizing.
When: Sunday October 21, 1:00 pm CBS
Where: MetLife Stadium
Series: 11th meeting, New York leads 8-2
Last Meeting: New York 24, Minnesota 30
Last Jets Win: New York 29, Minnesota 20 10/11/2010
Injury Report: Jets: DNP – Buster Skrine (concussion), Trumaine Johnson (quad), Terrelle Pryor (groin), Quincy Enunwa (ankle), Marcus Maye (thumb), Isaiah Crowell (foot)/ Limited: Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot)/ Full Practice: Robby Anderson (hamstring), Leonard Williams (back), Spencer Long (knee/ finger), Andre Roberts (foot/ ankle), Brandon Copeland (ankle), Doug Middleton (hamstring), Sam Darnold (Right Elbow), Jamal Adams (ankle), Charone Peake (hamstring), Nathan Shepherd (shoulder), Kelvin Beachum (foot)
Vikings: DNP – Dalvin Cook (hamstring), Everson Griffen (not injury related), Danielle Hunter (groin), Linval Joseph (ankle/knee/shoulder), Riley Reiff (foot), Andrew Sendejo (groin)/ Full Practice: Tashawn Bower (ankle), Jaleel Johnson (ankle), Kevin McDermott (hand), Stephen Weatherly (rib)
Jets Rankings 2018: OFFENSE: POINTS PER GAME 27.5 (11th) TOTAL YARDS 340.5 (26th), RUSHING 130.3 (7th), PASSING 210.2 (27th), 3RD DOWN 37.5% (23), DEFENSE: POINTS PER GAME 23 (13th), TOTAL YARDS 381 (22), RUSHING 108.7 (17th), PASSING 272.3 (22), 3RD DOWN 36.5 (11th)
Vikings Rankings 2018: OFFENSE: POINTS PER GAME 22.3 (19th) TOTAL YARDS 391.2 (10th), RUSHING 87.3 (28), PASSING 303.8 (8th), 3RD DOWN 41.86% (13), DEFENSE: POINTS PER GAME 24.7 (T-18th), TOTAL YARDS 359.7 (16th), RUSHING 92.8 (9th), PASSING 266.8 (19th), 3RD DOWN 25% (1st)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
GET RUN GAME GOING:
One of the best ways to keep a high powered offense out of rhythm is by controlling time possession and tempo. The Jets bulldozed their way to victory in week 5 against the Broncos by producing 323 yards on the ground and ultimately holding the ball for just under 29 minutes. Though the Vikings have been one of the better run defenses in the league up to date, the emphasis on getting the ground game going should be huge. The Jets will also be missing some key pieces on offense this week. Quincy Enunwa is already out 3-4 weeks with an ankle injury while Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell have also missed practice their own respective injuries. The offense needs to pound the ball, open up opportunities in the passing game, and maintain time possession if they want any chance of winning.
PROVIDE PRESSURE ON COUSINS:
Getting pressure on the quarterback has been easier said than done this season but the Jets are slowly turning the page. In the past few weeks Leonard Williams has emerged as the pass rusher that Jet fans hope he would be. If Cousins has any respectable time to sit back in the pocket the Jets will be looking at a long day. The secondary is already banged up, putting more pressure on the front seven to perform above their levels. In addition to that, Cousins has showed he is not the most careful quarterback in the pocket under pressure. In his six games this season he has fumbled the ball six times. If the big dogs up front can provide enough pressure, then maybe the turnovers might come easier than expected.
SLOW DIGGS AND THIELEN AT ALL COSTS:
Diggs and Thielen pose as the two biggest threats coming into Sunday against the Jets. Their ability as route runners and chain movers are huge for the Vikings. Though it is nearly impossible to stop them both, the Jets will need to at least slow or try to focus on just one of them. Thielen has been the superior wide receiver for the Vikings, posting six games of over 100+ receiving in each of them. The Jets could be looking at no Johnson and no Skrine on Sunday so Darryl Roberts and Parry Nickerson will have to step up once again in their absence. Digging deep into the playbook and disguising coverage’s might be the best move for New York to handle the Vikings personnel.
The defensive line has to show up. If the Jets let Cousins sit back and find Thielen and Diggs all day then they might as well not even suit up on Sunday. In their abysmal loss to the Jags in week four, Blake Bortles looked like an all pro quarterback hitting simple under routes for large chunks. Imagine if Cousins has all day to throw to two all pro wideouts. Yikes. If Williams and the rest of the line shows up on Sunday then they give the Jets a very realistic chance to come away with a victory.
Vikings 24 NY Jets 14. The Jets are simply undermanned and outmatched in this one. They have too many injuries at key positions to compete with the high level talent that the Vikings bring. Darnold should have a solid game against this inconsistent Vikings defense but in the end it wont be enough to overcome the offensive firepower that Minnesota has.