Sunday at 1 p.m., your New York Jets (2-10) will square off with the Minnesota Vikings (5-7). The game will air locally on CBS and will be played in the outdoor cold of Minnesota.
Last week, the Jets suffered through a 16-13 home loss to Miami. The Jets put on a brilliant rushing display, going for 277 yards and controlling the clock. However, New York left a ton of points on the board. Unable to cash in on two field goals or take advantage of long drives led by the running game, the system ultimately failed itself.
Last weeks game plan was obvious: keep the ball out of Geno Smith’s hands. Unfortunately, this is the NFL and quarterback’s have to, at the very least, manage games. Smith only threw 13 passes the entire game, which included an interception with 34 seconds left to end the game.
The Jets ran the ball much like the team envisioned they would to start the year. The combination of Chris Johnson (17 carries, 105 yards) and Chris Ivory (16 carries, 62 yards) led to 210 first half rushing yards. While the Jets do need to find a better run-pass balance, the ground and pound principle is a good scheme to carry forward to end the year. When you run the ball that effectively, it also opens up play action passing.
Minnesota is a team that appears to be hitting its stride. While they’re not playoff contenders, Minny has won three of their last five and have been a tough team at home. The Vikings were expected to be led by star running back Adrian Peterson. As most know by now, Peterson has been suspended indefinitely by the league for alleged child abuse issues. Just like that, the Vikings best player and one of the most talented individuals in the league wasn’t there to scarry a rookie quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater leads the Vikings. The rookie quarterback out of Louisville was the 32nd pick in the 2014 draft. It’s been an up-and-down battle for Bridgewater, who has completed 61.1 percent of his passes but for just 1,827 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
While the offense has improved during the nine weeks Bridgewater has been quarterback, there’s still not a lot to fear. Greg Jennings is a solid wide receiver but much like Eric Decker, is limited by the play around him. Cordarrelle Patterson is a talented playmaker on the outside that appears to be falling out of favor with the coaching staff. Jarius Wright is a slot receiver to keep an eye on.
If there were ever an ideal matchup for the Jets offense, this would probably be it. Minnesota has a very strong secondary but has an overall lack of talent in the front seven and struggles to stop the run. Minny gives up 123.8 yards rushing per game, a figure that ranks them 24th in the NFL. The Vikings have done a better job of trying to influx talent into the front seven (drafting Anthony Barr, Shariff Floyd, Everson Griffin) but is still a young group.
The Jets have to be wary of safety Harrison Smith, who is starting to become a household name in the NFL. Smith is the type to roam around the field and can make plays all over. On the year, Smith has 70 tackles and four interceptions. At corner, the extremely talented Xavier Rhodes is a guy to stay away from.
The Jets game plan will likely be very similar to last weeks. Minnesota is forecasted to have temperatures in the low 30’s with a wintery mix, making passing the ball tough. The Jets defense played a solid game without defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe) and will have to again this week. The Jets also have to weary of Bridgewater’s scrambling abilities.
Other Jets on the injury report include tight end Jace Amaro (concussion), who will also be out this week. Kicker Nick Folk, who missed two of his four field goal attempts last week, is apparently battling a hip flexor problem but will be good to go.
This is another winnable game for the jets. Unfortunately, this season has been about finding ways to lose. Let’s see if they can flip that script for a week.