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Nobody knows the trouble I seen...
It's that time of year in a lost season when fan debates turn into who the team should fire or draft next year. Coming off a narrow but frustrating defeat at the hands of AFC East rival Miami Dolphins, the Jets are in a tailspin that will almost certainly end with head coach Rex Ryan and possibly others being canned. If you're still watching the games at this point either you have a some sort of obligation related to the team like me, or you're the sort of person who enjoys watching a tire fire burn out.
No rest for the wicked...ly depressed. Let's break this one down.
Where Each Team Is
The Minnesota Vikings haven't had a very good season themselves, sitting at 5-7 heading into week 14 after a decisive victory over the Carolina Panthers. The previous two weeks the Vikings dropped close games to NFC North rivals the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The Vikings have had a wide array of close games and blowouts going either way against a variety of opponents this year, and they might be the single hardest team to get a bead on in the NFL.
The 2014 New York Jets stink and are 2-10, but you likely knew both of those things already. The Jets ripped open the Dolphins run defense last week, rushing over 300 yards combined, and STILL lost a low-scoring affair late in the game. This team is snakebit.
Jets vs Vikings coverage
Sister Site: Daily Norseman
Location: TCF Bank Stadium; Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Field: Open air, FieldTurf. TCF is actually a college field that the Vikings are using temporarily while they build another stadium to lose their division in.
Coverage: CBS. America's most NCIS-y network.
Weather: Cold with a chance of snow in the afternoon. Highs in the low-30's.
Record: Jets lead the all-time series, 8-1.
What happened last time? Jets beat the Vikings by a score of 29-20 on October 11th, 2010.
Who is favored? Opening line had the Vikings by 4.5.
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Josh Thomas||CB||Illness||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Jace Amaro||TE||Concussion||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Greg Salas||WR||--||Did Not Participate In Practice||--|
|Chris Johnson||RB||Knee||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Nick Folk||K||right Hip||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Willie Colon||G||Shoulder||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Muhammad Wilkerson||DE||Toe||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
|Jeremy Kerley||WR||Illness||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Jeff Cumberland||TE||Illness||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Rhett Ellison||TE||Ankle||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Jabari Price||CB||Hamstring||Did Not Participate In Practice||Doubtful|
|Chase Ford||TE||Hamstring||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Kyle Rudolph||TE||Abdomen||Full Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Sharrif Floyd||DT||Knee||Limited Participation in Practice||Probable|
|Anthony Barr||LB||Knee||Did Not Participate In Practice||Doubtful|
|Jerick McKinnon||RB||Back||Did Not Participate In Practice||Out|
Jets: On offense the Jets are 30th in points scored, 29th in overall yards, 32nd in passing yards and 3rd in rushing. The Jets rushing record went up in rank after running like Forrest Gump all over the Dolphins on Monday. But like so many other times this season and in team history, the Jets strength on the ground didn't amount to a pile of Idzik plop when they can't pass. Or in the case of last week, when they choose not to pass.
On defense the Jets are at 26th in points allowed, 7th in overall yards allowed, 13th in passing defense, and 3rd in rushing defense. It seems mind-blowing that the Jets have somehow managed to have a pass defense that is above average this season. Three defensive backs slated for significant playing time in the offseason didn't even come close to making it through the season, and Rex is rotating guys we've never heard of with guys playing out of position. Is Rex a failure as a head coach? Yes. Can he coach up a garbage roster he's be handed by his joke of a general manager? Absolutely. But there's limits to his magic.
Vikings: On offense the Vikings are terrible themselves. 24th in points scored, 30th in overall yards, 30th in passing yards; and 13th in rushing yards. The Vikings usually rely on the run to keep them in games, but they are less effective overall and on the ground while being only slightly better at scoring or passing the ball. Top to bottom, this is one of the worst overall offenses in the NFL and it matches up very favorably for the Jets.
On defense the Vikings rank 14th in points allowed, 10th in yards allowed, 6th against the pass, and 24th against the run. This is a challenging secondary but the Vikings are kind of lousy against rushing attacks, so the Jets might stay alive. It's hard to envision either Jets QB playing effectively against the Vikings pass defense, especially Geno Smith. Then again, the Jets might just eliminate the pass altogether for another week. Yay.
AP Pro Ranking has the Jets at 31st overall, and the Vikings ranked 23rd.
Attacking the Vikings
Run the football. Not like the Jets had any other options, but the Vikings are worst against the run. I don't expect the Jets to make any significant plays through the air all day. On defense, selling out against the run should easily take the teeth out of the Vikings offense. Once the Jets knock out the committee of Vikings backup rushers, it should entirely fall on the shoulders of an easily overwhelmed QB. Granted, Bridgewater has significantly better upside than Smith and his numbers are steadily climbing. In a shootout, it's likely that the Jets lose. Pressure is the name of the game here.
Chris Ivory. His averages aren't that great, in fact they are the same as Bilal Powell and slightly worse than CJ0.5k's which is a feat. But Ivory is clearly this teams bellcow no matter how hard the offense tries to change the pace or even get gimmicky. Ivory has nearly 40 more carries and almost 150 yards more than the next most active RB. Geno Smith leads the worst passing attack in the NFL against the 6th best pass defense with Greg Salas and Jace Amaro lost to injuries. Outside of the occasional potential Eric Decker flashes of brilliance, this is going to be painful to watch. Smith can't win this game. Vick can't win this game. Rex Ryan can't win this game. It all rests on the shoulders of Ivory and his running.
Quinton Coples and Sheldon Richardson are expected to try and pick up the slack for the toe-turfed Muhammad Wilkerson who is out. Leger Douzable also might see an increase in snaps. The play of the defensive line without Wilkerson will play a large part in determining the outcome of this game.
Vikings to Watch
Teddy Bridgewater is the obvious answer. The rookie second round pick for the Vikings has quietly risen to a 79.0 QBR in 8 games, superior to the Jets quarterbacks. Bridgewater is far from a stud; he averages about a TD and a pick per game, his completion rating hovers near 60 percent, and he's been sacked 25 times in 8 starts. He has one of the worst receiver sets in the NFL. Yet in spite of all this, Bridgewater and the Vikings offense are slightly outperforming the Jets through the air. Shameful.
Greg Jennings "leads" the Vikings lackluster receiver corps. Anyone who has played a Vikings receiver in fantasy football knows just how erratic and ineffective they can be. Jennings and Eric Decker are virtually identical in production this season. Second year WR Cordarrelle Patterson has been benched in favor of Charles Johnson, both of whom will be looking to prove something against the Jets with whatever snaps and targets they are given. Patterson has actually been significantly better than any of the Jets options behind Decker, no Jets backup receiver comes even close. This tells us that the Vikings tolerance for failure is slightly better than the Jets receivers ceiling this year. Nice. The Vikings might be one of the worst through the air, but the Jets are the absolute worst. No competition.
Bro's Bottom Line
This is the most winnable game for the remainder of the Jets 2014 season, which probably scares those of you hoping to tank the final four to close out the season and lock up a good draft pick. Unfortunately for those of you who want to suck for the duck (or however the hell the saying goes, it sounds overtly perverse to me), Rex Ryan and those playing for him have too much pride to simply drop a game without fighting for it. On the other hand, games like last weeks highlight just how elusive winning is to the 2014 New York Jets.
To call the Vikings mediocre might be a little generous, but they're at a better place than Gang Green right now. Each team does a few things better and worse than their opponent. I can't get a bead on either of these teams, but my guess would be that football fans are in for a sloppy, defensive, low-scoring affair at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Send your questions, comments, and hate mail via firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffParksNY on Twitter. Thanks for reading.