Both the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings have a lot of similarities going into their first meeting in three years on Sunday.
Each team has been a pleasant surprise given how they’ve exceeded preseason expectations, and they also bounced back last week after scoring three points in disappointing losses in their previous games.
Given that, all signs are pointing toward an entertaining matchup when the Jets meet with the Vikings in Minneapolis.
The Jets enter 7-4 following a 31-10 home win over Chicago last week.
After tallying just one field goal in a 10-3 defeat the previous week at New England, Jets coach Robert Saleh benched starter Zach Wilson in favor of backup Mike White.
The decision paid off immediately, as the offense was rejuvenated under White, who threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Jets to a season-high 466 yards of total offense.
If White can continue to excel, that would be a great complement to a stout Jets defense that enters fourth in the NFL in points allowed, at 17.8 per game.
The main challenge for New York on Sunday will be trying to slow down Minnesota star wideout Justin Jefferson, who is second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,232) and third in receptions (81).
“I think any player relishes playing against the best,” Saleh said. “We’ve had some great challenges all year. We’ve had Miami’s group, Buffalo’s group, Cincinnati’s group. There’s been a lot of really good receivers we’ve had to go against. It’s another challenge for us. Knowing our secondary, they are ready to take that challenge on.”
The Vikings enter at 9-2 following a 33-26 home win on Thanksgiving night over New England, which was a nice rebound from an awful 40-3 loss at home to Dallas just four days prior.
There might still be six games left in the regular season, but the Vikings can clinch the NFC North title on Sunday with a win and a Detroit loss to Jacksonville.
Minnesota enters producing 23.8 points per game and allowing 23.4.
“We’ve got 11 games of inventory now,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. “I think we are to the point in the season where you’ve really got to take a long look at what you’ve put on tape schematically (and with) tendencies. How can we maybe tweak and adjust our schemes to try and take advantage of some of the things we’ve put on tape? Maybe things people are game planning against us, while still trying to stay true to who we want to be at our core.”
The Vikings might be without offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a concussion. Harrison Smith was limited with an ankle injury.
Running back Michael Carter (ankle) was one of four Jets who did not practice on Wednesday along with safety Ashtyn Davis (hamstring). Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (ankle) was limited.
Minnesota is 3-0 this year against teams from the AFC East, having already won at Miami and Buffalo before beating New England at home.
The Jets have won both of their meetings against NFC North opponents, beating Green Bay on the road in Week 6 before beating Chicago last week.
The Jets lead the all-time series between the teams, 8-3.
–Field Level Media