This week 7 game between the Vikings and Jets sees two teams with disparate goals for the season square off with similar records. The Vikings come into this season with an air of Super Bowl or bust surrounding them. They reached last season’s NFC Championship Game with the “Minneapolis Miracle” only to be drubbed by the Eagles. So, having gone out this offseason and got their Quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency from the Redskins, it has given them this air that nothing, but a Super Bowl will do. So far six games in, they look to be warming up as a Super Bowl contender with fiery wins against last season’s Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals at home. One of the keys for Minnesota to win this game, is to use their blue-chip players on defence such as Harrison Smith at Safety, Linval Joseph at Defensive Tackle and Danielle Hunter at Defensive End; In order to frustrate and confuse Jets rookie Quarterback at the line of scrimmage before the play with his pre-snap reads and his post snap reads. One of the reasons the Jets beat the Colts last week was because the Colts played man coverage a lot of the time whilst putting no pressure on Darnold at all. This gave him all the time in the world to find the open man and keep the Jets offence moving and scoring. By doing the opposite with his defence, Mike Zimmer faces a better chance of winning.
However just because you can take away Darnold’s reads doesn’t mean you will stop the Jets from winning. Just ask the Lions, Broncos and Colts. When Darnold has thrown the ball 30 times or less this season, the Jets are 3-0. When it’s the opposite they are 0-3. The point being that the Jets, with a rookie Quarterback, rely heavily on their run game and teams know this. When teams have been able to slow down the Jets rushing attack they have had success but when they haven’t, the Jets offensive lineman are moving like snow plows down the field, wiping out the opposing Line-backers with ease. This has paved the way for the backfield tandem of Isiah Crowell and Bilal Powell to run through teams easier than you can make a cup of tea. The Jets have ran for 430 yards in their last two games combined, won both of them and scored over 40 points back to back for the first time in 10 years.
The Vikings are ranked 9th in total offence and 7th in passing with Kirk Cousins at Quarterback. He’s had games where he’s looked like a man playing on a $84 million contract and other games where he looks more confused than a cat competing in a dog show. Although to his advantage he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the league at his disposal with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Diggs had a bit of a down week against the Cardinals with just 3 catches for 33 yards so expect him to bounce back against the Jets. However, Adam Thielen is playing like a shooting star this season, streaking across the NFL skyline with the most yards of any wide receiver (712) and is one game away from tying the streak for the most consecutive 100-yard games in NFL history with seven! That’s incredible from a previously undrafted player to be breaking NFL records left right and centre. Vikings fans will hope Thielen continues to be on fire this Sunday against an injury plagued Jets secondary.
I think the Vikings will win this game comfortably; They boast too much firepower both offensively and defensively for the Jets and Sam Darnold to keep up with them. The Jets have been driving their way to victories this season by establishing the run, but as we’ve seen this season you need to fly in order to score points. The Vikings with Cousins will win this game as they can score as fast as they like, even showing this in their shootout loss to the Rams. Darnold will be smothered by the Vikings defence but shows flashes of potential with a couple of touchdown passes but, in the end, I think the Vikings will advance to 4-2-1 after Sunday.
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who’s followed the game since 2010, currently at the University of Leicester. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRiley and his blog http://www.rileynfl.wordpress.com
Image credit: Yahoo Sports