The Minnesota Vikings were able to get another victory last week when they defeated the New England Patriots. With a 9-2 record, they are still able to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC. Minnesota also has a chance to clinch the NFC North this Sunday against the New York Jets. While the game is a non-conference matchup, there is still an odd rivalry between the two teams. The last time they played each other was in 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium. This back-and-forth game eventually went to overtime where rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found Jarius Wright for the game-winner.
From our "We're Telling you for the Last Time" Series-the last time the #vikings scored a TD vs every NFL team. Today, it's the last TD scored vs the Jets (#27) Dec 7, 2014. Teddy Bridgewater to Jarius Wright in OT for 87 and a win. Wright catches 4 for 123. @Jay_wright4 pic.twitter.com/lu0x9d8I2m— VikeFans (@VikeFans) July 16, 2018
History of rejection
The Jets have also dealt with a lot of rejection in favor of Minnesota. In 2004, the Jets courted cornerback Antoine Winfield for two days before he agreed to a six-year, $30 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus. Winfield was in the Jets’ building when former Vikings coach Mike Tice sent for a private jet to pick up Winfield at Republic Airport which is about 25 minutes from the Jets building. Winfield left the building without signing, and the rest is history.
Then in 2018, linebacker, Anthony Barr, was going to sign with the Jets and even told his agent to accept the deal with them. This offer was for an average of $15 million per season for five years. Then within 24 hours, Barr changed his mind and returned to Minnesota for far less money. However, perhaps the biggest rejection was by current Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins, whom the Jets wanted badly.
Kirk Cousins on Jeremy Bates and the Jets, appearing on ESPN's NFL Live yesterday pic.twitter.com/zXB5EG02xh— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) February 3, 2018
The Jets even raised their initial offer to a fully guaranteed three-year, $90 million contract. This ultimately forced the Vikings to raise their offer from $75 million to $84 million which obviously Cousins took. The rub is that he took less money without even bothering to visit the Jets’ facility. There’s a weird connection to the Jets that the Vikings have that is not fully negative but it’s more than positive.
Take care of business
If the Vikings win versus the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Detroit Lions, they will take the North. However, it’s better to not rely on other teams so they need to take care of business on Sunday. Here are three ways for the Vikings to get the W versus the Jets.
1. Spread the Ball Around
As almost every NFL fan knows at this point, Justin Jefferson is arguably the best current wide receiver. He has really only had a few weak games this season versus top corners. However, this week, he will go up against arguably the best rookie corner in Sauce Gardner.
Sauce was my personal pick for the best corner in last year’s draft and he has lived up to that title. He has already shut down some of the top receivers in Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyreek Hill. On top of that, he’s only given up two receptions of 20 yards or more. The slight advantage that Jefferson has over him is that he also plays in the slot. The Jets have kept their corners in their respective positions and Sauce only has six snaps in the slot whereas Jefferson plays there about 28% of the time.
However, if the Jets change this strategy, the Vikings will have to utilize their other receivers but mainly their tight end, T.J. Hockenson. The Jets are 22nd in receiving yards per game allowed to tight ends with 53.5. Hockenson has been doing extremely well in his four games since coming over from the Detroit Lions. He has caught 26 passes on 34 targets for 192 yards, 1 touchdown, and 10 first downs. Since the trade, he is the number two tight end in receiving yards and second in conversions with 11. Additionally, he’s tied with Travis Kelce for first in receptions.
This was an impressive route from TJ Hockenson to convert on third and long last night: easily beats press with the burst to stack the DB and a sharp break out of the route. Rare skillset to be able to do this as a 6'5" TE. Great throw too: pic.twitter.com/d7ROAfZqjP— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) November 25, 2022
His two best games were against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders which were ultimately great victories for the Vikings. Hockenson was a big part of both as he had two big third-down conversions on the game-winning drive against the Commanders, and a huge fourth-and-5 conversion in the fourth quarter versus the Bills. Understandably so, he was only overshadowed by Jefferson’s amazing fourth and eighteen catch. The Vikings need to continue using him this way so they can either open Jefferson up or allow the running game to establish its dominance.
2. Keep the Stove On with Dalvin
Overall, Dalvin Cook is having an excellent season on the ground. He is sixth in rushing yards (841) while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The more Cook touches the ball, the more effective he and the rest of the offense can be. When Cook is in space, that’s where he flourishes, and the Jets have had issues tackling in space.
TYLER BOYD LMFAO NICE TACKLING JETS pic.twitter.com/hKNzq8q5sU— Caden Davis (@CadenDaviss) September 25, 2022
However, defensive tackle, Sheldon Rankins, will return this week. When he’s healthy, he has done well enough against the run that gives time to the other defenders to make plays. However, New York’s tackling ability was shown to be flawed when he was out. If the linebackers and secondary try the way they’ve been doing the past few weeks, Cook will be able to serve the Vikings a three-course meal.
3. Meet at the Quarterback
The Vikings are still a little shorthanded in the secondary. They have allowed big games to Tyreek Hill (12 catches, 177 yards), Jaylen Waddle (six catches, 129 yards), DeAndre Hopkins (12 catches, 159 yards, TD), and Stefon Diggs (12 catches, 128 yards). They have a few good players, but the depth hasn’t played as well when some go out with injuries. The Vikings also lost their top draft pick, Andrew Booth Jr., who had surgery on his meniscus and will be out for the season. Luckily, Akayleb Evans is coming off the injury report this week. The fourth-round rookie played well against the Eagles, Commanders, and Bills, after coming in when Cameron Dantzler got hurt against Washington. He has been both effective in coverage and as a tackler against the run. This is good news as Minnesota will face another great receiver in rookie Garrett Wilson.
Garrett Wilson is HIM 🔥 (via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/1eYfCpAtOr— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) November 27, 2022
Watch for Wilson
Wilson has caught 49 passes for 628 yards and four touchdowns with multiple people throwing him the ball. In seven games with Zach Wilson, he caught 26 passes for 319 yards with no touchdowns. He then has played better without Zach Wilson as he has 19 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Zach won’t be throwing him the ball this week. Mike White will try to continue playing well after last week where he threw 22 receptions of 28 attempts for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He isn’t flawless as he threw five interceptions last season from a clean pocket. Having said that, he made the Jets’ offense look great, especially Garrett Wilson. To cover for the slightly passive passing defense, the Vikings need to pressure White.
Harrison Phillips and Za'Darius Smith were all over this trickery from the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/k2EvUG5Qfz— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 25, 2022
One of the biggest advantages that the Vikings have over the Jets is the edge duo of Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter. On paper, they are in a favorable matchup against the Jets’ tackle duo of Duane Brown and Max Mitchell. Brown ranks 31st with an allowed pressure rate of 5.14% while Mitchell ranks 46th with a rate of 6.05%. Together, Smith and Hunter have 105 pressures averaging 9.5 per game. Smith is leading the league amongst edge rushers with 61 pressures while Hunter is tied for 11th with 44. These numbers make them the best of any edge duo in the league. If Smith and Hunter are able to pressure and/or sack White, it doesn’t matter how well he did last week. These things would take away opportunities where Garrett Wilson could get passes no matter who is covering him. If they don’t then the Vikings could easily be in for another loss where the result is similar to the Cowboys game (40-3).
If the Vikings can do these three things, they can easily become the…