The 7-4 NY Jets go on the road to face the 9-2 Minnesota Vikings in a game with playoff implications for both teams.
Both the Jets and the Vikings are having successful seasons that have thus far exceeded expectations. They also coincidentally enough both have their signature wins against the same team, the Buffalo Bills.
For the Jets, they scored a bounce-back win over the Chicago Bears and are looking to build off their offensive success with Mike White at quarterback.
Gang Green has a great opportunity to play well on a big stage against a formidable foe.
1. Who is the real Mike White?
In his 2022 debut, quarterback Mike White was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week. It was hard to question the decision to make a change at the position after seeing White perform the way he did.
White made quick decisions and spread the ball around against a porous Bears defense.
With such a small sample size of games for White, the discussion about his ability to potentially lead this team on a playoff run or perhaps be thought of as a long-term option is a bit uncertain.
If White can show consistency in the same type of play he showed last week against winning teams like the Vikings and Bills next week, it will go a long way for the confidence of the team and fan base.
While their record indicates a great team, the Vikings have allowed the most passing yards per game this season so far. If White avoids mistakes and takes what the defense is giving him, this could be another big week for the newly anointed quarterback.
2. How will the NY Jets defend Justin Jefferson?
The Vikings have a number of great playmakers that will challenge the elite Jet's defense between Dalvin Cook, T.J. Hockenson, Adam Thielen, and others.
The one player that strikes the most fear in opponents facing the Vikings though is star wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson has over 1,200 receiving yards already through 11 games. He is a matchup nightmare and the Vikings do a great job of moving him around in creative ways to get him open. The strength of the Jets' defense has been their defensive line and their cornerbacks.
The latter group will have to have another stellar performance with Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II all likely to be on Jefferson at some point throughout the game.
In the two losses Minnesota has this season, Justin Jefferson was held under 50 yards receiving. While it won't guarantee a win, keeping the star receiver in check will go a long way for the Jets' chances at an upset victory
Against stud receivers such as Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and others the Jets have held their own.
It will be interesting to see if the strategy against Jefferson is going to focus on trusting different players to guard him or if they mix things up and have Sauce Gardner shadow him, even though that strategy hasn't been deployed much all season.
3. Can the NY Jets dominate in areas where they have matchup advantages?
While the Jets are underdogs in this game, they do have good matchups in this game that could swing the outcome.
As previously mentioned, the Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses in the entire NFL this season. Outside of cornerback Patrick Peterson, Minnesota will be having corners on the field that lack experience including rookie Akayleb Evans as the likely starter.
Between Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and more, the Jets have the talent to get open often. With a banged-up running back room, the wide receivers might need to step up to be the focal point of the offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets' defensive line is fully healthy with Sheldon Rankins back and the group has been firing on all cylinders over the last number of weeks. Meanwhile, the Vikings are dealing with injuries on their offensive line with tackle Christian Darrisaw out.
If Kirk Cousins is facing pressure constantly throughout the game it will make things a lot more difficult to make big plays down the field to the bevy of playmakers that they have.
The Jets have a chance to set the tone for their stretch run as they look to break a decade-long playoff drought.
A win against the No. 2 seed in the NFC will go a long way in building confidence for a young group learning as they go in terms of playing meaningful games late in the season.