Vikings Interior Line vs. Leonard Williams
Following the Jets’ win over Indianapolis last week, a clip circulated Twitter that showed Leonard Williams lifting and throwing Colts rookie Quenton Nelson. That play and his performance the previous week against Denver are glimpses as to what type of player Williams is capable of being. However, on the whole he has disappointed this season. His three sacks show he can finish plays, but he has struggled to maintain consistent pressure on the interior. When he gets going, the Jets front can control the line of scrimmage. When he struggles, they struggle, as evidenced by the 34 points the Jets allowed last week. This is why it will be vital for the combo of Tom Compton, Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers to set the tone up front. They are coming off arguably their best performance of the season, as the Vikings ran for almost 200 yards against Arizona.
Kirk Cousins vs. Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams is the Jets version of Harrison Smith. Despite his youth, the Jets use him all over the field in very scenario one could use a safety. As such, how Kirk Cousins identifies and baits Adams will have a significant impact on the success of their passing game. John DeFilippo was on the Eagles staff that essentially gameplanned the NFC Championship Game around Smith. With run-pass options, screen passes and misdirection, they ensured that Smith was out of position as much as possible. And Nick Foles subsequently made perfect reads virtually all game. One would expect similar tactics with Cousins against Adams on Sunday.
Mike Zimmer vs. Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold will be the third rookie quarterback the Vikings face this year, and he is probably the most complete of the three. Last week, against Josh Rosen, Mike Zimmer dialed up pressure with disguised blitzes that put Rosen in no-win situations. Rosen is fairly safe with the football, so he took a number of sacks rather than force throws. Darnold, on the other hand, has a little more gunslinger to him; he has seven interceptions through six games. Because of that, Zimmer is likely going to force the rookie’s hand like he did last week with exotic blitz packages. It will force Darnold to either make tough pre-snap reads or make dangerous throws.
Once again, the Vikings could be missing some key players come Sunday. While Tashawn Bower has been a full participant, Danielle Hunter, Andrew Sendejo, Linval Joseph, Riley Reiff and Dalvin Cook have all missed practice this week. Cook was a full participant Wednesday. However, he left practice early Thursday and the Vikings officially listed him as a DNP. And of course, Everson Griffen remains out and is unlikely to play Sunday.
The Jets’ situation is no better. Nearly half their team is listed on their injury report, and a number have missed multiple practices. Some of the more notable players listed are leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, leading receiver Quincy Enunwa and a handful of defensive starters–Buster Skrine, Marcus Maye and Trumaine Johnson.
Madison Parkhill: Minnesota 27, New York 20
After consistently pressuring and sacking rookie quarterback Josh Rosen last week, the Vikings get another rookie quarterback. Darnold has been decent thus far, and he will get the benefit of playing at home. That being said, I expect Mike Zimmer to dial up more varieties of third down pressure looks in an attempt to confuse the rookie. Forcing Darnold into mistakes or sacks will again be critical to the Vikings success on defense. On offense, the story remains Adam Thielen. Thielen has consistently elevated Cousins, making numerous highlight reel plays and destroying opposing defenders with his route running skills. The Jets are vulnerable at cornerback, especially in the slot, so Thielen and Stefon Diggs should again have big days. A win here is crucial as a Sunday Night Football matchup against the Saints looms
– Madison Parkhill writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @MadPark44.
Clayton Brooks: Minnesota 28, New York 17
This game may have all the makings of a possible upset. The Jets have played surprisingly well this season, and they’re much improved defensively as opposed to last season. Their greatest strength (takeaways) could spell trouble for a Vikings team that has had problems with turnovers in 2017. On the offensive side, the Jets have a rookie quarterback who may be playing the best in his draft class. He’s also got a good rushing attack that provides some help.
That being said, the Jets are still a team in the middle of a rebuild and are still very young at key positions. There’s also limited depth across much of the roster, which doesn’t bode well as they are looking at members of their secondary limping into Sunday or miss the game altogether.
Overall, I still like the Vikings to come out of this with a quality win against a young team. The Vikings simply need it more as a final tune-up to their week eight showdown with the high powered New Orleans Saints.
– Clayton Brooks writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @ClaytonRBrooks2.
Sam Smith: Minnesota 31, New York 20
The Jets are an enigma to me. They are 3-3, but played one of the easiest schedules in football to get to that record. Defensively, they are hit-or-miss. Offensively, they depend a lot on their talented rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold has been good more often than not, but the interception totals are still higher than one would like.
Minnesota, on the other hand, looks to be on the upswing. The offense remains strong, but now the defense is finally starting to follow suit. I think this is the game where the Vikings really put it all together in a tough road environment. They have yet to fully embrace their identity of a year ago: a strong, balanced attack offensively and a blitz-heavy defense that forces a few turnovers. I believe the Vikings find it here and win this won rather handily to re-assert themselves as an NFC favorite.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith
Roger Dier: New York 24, Minnesota 14
In the lead-up to the final battle in the movie Platoon, Sargent Red O’Neill, who has spent his career in Vietnam sucking up to Staff Sargent Robert Barnes, tells Barnes that he wants to hop on the chopper over there and take some me time.
Sgt. O’Neill: Bob, I got a bad feeling on this one, all right? I mean, I got a bad feeling. I don’t think I’m gonna make it out of here. You understand what I’m saying to you?
Sgt. Barnes: Everybody got to die sometime, Red.
The Vikings’ visit to New York on Sunday gives me the same disturbing feeling. Much has been made about Kirk Cousins using the Jets for leverage during free agency to force the Vikings pay more for his services. If it’s there, every sports agent uses leverage to make more money for his/her clients, but as the owl once hooted, some things are better left unsaid.
The Jets (3-3) have won two straight. They’ve scored more points and allowed fewer points than the Vikings. Plus, the Jets are at home. The Vikings have five starters who are questionable: Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Cook, Linval Joseph, Andrew Sendejo and Riley Reiff. We’ve survived without Cook. Take Joseph, Hunter or Sendjo off the field, and we’re in trouble.
I’m not yet convinced the Vikings are who we think they are. Jets win, 24-14.
-Roger Dier covers the Vikings and the Chicago Blackhawks for Full Press Coverage. Follow Roger @rogerdier.
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