The 3-3 New York Jets wrap up a set of three consecutive games at MetLife Stadium when they host the 3-2-1 Minnesota Vikings. If there’s any lingering animosity over the Jets being snubbed by Viking quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason, there shouldn’t be. Being spurned by Cousins is what led the Jets to draft Sam Darnold. A younger, cheaper option with far more upside. Where are some of the key head to head battles? Let’s take a look.
DL Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson vs Vikings Interior O-line:
It was impossible to pick just one player who will line up against Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson on Sunday because the Jets will move them around a bit, and the Vikings have been anywhere from bad to terrible at LG, C and RG. As much complaining as Jets fans have been doing about the O-line this season, they’ve been far superior to the Vikings, who have allowed a combined 91 quarterback pressures and 12 sacks according to pro football focus, whereas the Jets O-line as surrendered 46 QB pressures and five sacks. However, the biggest issue for the Vikings is on the interior where Mike Remmers, Pat Elflein and Tom Compton have combined to surrender 50 of their 91 pressures and 7 sacks. Williams has been heating up as of late, and this battle could mean a big day for Leo.
MIN OGs Mike Remmers & Tom Compton have allowed a combined 42 QB pressures/6 sacks. Carpenter/Winters allowed 19 pressures/1 sack. Pat Elflein has allowed 8 pressures/1 sack in 4 games, ranked 23rd of 28 pass blocking centers per PFF. Spencer Long ranked 25th. pic.twitter.com/42589JgTr7
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) October 20, 2018
CB Morris Claiborne vs Adam Thielen:
This could be the most important match-up of the day if the Jets can’t get any pressure up front on Cousins. Thielen is scorching hot right now and leads the NFL with 712 yards and four scores through the season’s first six games. Claiborne has had a stellar season thus far with the Jets and will likely draw the 6′ 2” Minnesota State product for most of the day.
OT’s Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell vs Danielle Hunter:
Hunter has become one of the league’s top edge rushers and moves around in Minnesota’s scheme. Shell and Beachum have shut down a pair of premier pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Von Miller up to this point, and Hunter will be their latest challenge.
TE Chris Herndon vs FS Andrew Sendejo:
With a banged up receiving corps, the Jets will likely look to get their tight ends more involved, so be it Herndon, Jordan Leggett or Neal Sterling, Sam Darnold will be checking on the safety coverage in key spots. Based on his recent play, we’d expect Herndon to see the majority of targets and Sendejo will likely see his fair share of Herndon.
OLB Jeremiah Attaouchu vs RT Rashod Hill:
As bad as the Vikings interior line has been as a group, Hill has allowed more sacks than any other Vikings defender as he has surrendered four according to pro football focus. Attaochu has shown signs of life as a pass rusher and should see a healthy chunk of reps this Sunday.
LG James Carpenter/C Spencer Long vs DL Sheldon Richardson:
Sheldon Richardson will be looking to make plays against his former team and the weak link in the Jets offensive line this season has been Spencer Long. Outside of a dreadful performance against the Miami Dolphins, James Carpenter has been a solid pass blocker but he and Long could have their hands full on Sunday.