By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings are in the midst of their only home stand of the season. It concludes Sunday against the New York Jets at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings (5-7) are coming off a lopsided home victory over the Carolina Panthers. The Jets hosted the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
The Jets entered their Monday night contest with a 2-9 record with wins over the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers — both at home. They are 0-5 on road with losses to the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. Those five losses came by an average margin of defeat of 17.8 points, but that includes a seven-point loss at Green Bay and two-point defeat at New England.
Jets on Offense
The Jets are nearly as one-dimensional on offense as possible. They are third in the league in rushing at 136.5 yards per game and 32nd in the league in passing with 173.7 yards per game.
Running back Chris Ivory is the focal point of the offense with 579 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 130 carries. He is a powerful runner that could present problems similar to what Eddie Lacy of the Packers and Jonathan Stewart of the Panthers did to the Vikings defense in each of the last two weeks. They combined to run for 210 yards on 37 carries for a 5.67 average.
The Jets made their biggest splash in free agency in signing wide receiver Eric Decker. The former University of Minnesota star leads the team in receptions, targets, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and catches for a first down. He has, however, been hampered by injuries and poor quarterback play. He is a very good player, but cannot any short-comings at quarterback.
The Jets plan on starting Geno Smith the rest of the season at quarterback, but has numbers worse than Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater (lower completion percentage, fewer yards, less touchdowns, more interceptions, a lower rating and a shorter longest pass). Michael Vick was give an opportunity to run the Jets offense, but his numbers are worse than Smith’s. The Jets need to see if Smith can be their quarterback going forward or if they need to look for one in the upcoming draft. Right now, the latter is more likely.
Jets on Defense
Just like their offense, the Jets’ defense is a lot better in one area than they are in the other. They are third in rushing yards allowed with 86.2 per game and 13th in passing yards allowed with 238.6 per game.
Their secondary has been very inconsistent and beaten up by injuries. They currently have two cornerbacks, including former first round draft pick Dee Milliner on the injured reserve, but have had several others injured at some point. ESPN unofficially lists fourth-year veteran Darrin Walls and undrafted rookie Marcus Williams (from North Dakota State) as the starting cornerbacks. The entire secondary has been better of late allowing 945 passing yards in their last four games, which includes an 80-yard touchdown pass by the Steelers in the final two minutes of their Week 10 game.
The strength of the defense is their front seven. Ends Muhammad Wilkerson, if healthy, and Sheldon Richardson are two of the best in the game. Nose tackle Damon Harrison creates space for the ends and linebackers to make plays with his size (6-feet-4-inches tall and 350 pounds, according to ESPN).
The key for the Vikings is to wear out the Jets front seven on defense and make Smith beat them. The Vikings will be favored at home and another lopsided victory should be expectated.
Please note that all statistical information was gathered prior to Monday night’s game against the Dolphins.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.