Mike White Mania and Other MIN-NYJ Storylines
In Week 13 of the 2022 season, the Vikings face the Jets at home. The season started unexpectedly with a strong 9-2 record, and the Vikings are on pace for the second seed in the NFC playoffs. Robert Saleh’s Jets are a strong opponent, and there are a few interesting storylines to watch.
Sweeping a Division
The Vikings could sweep the AFC East after accumulating a 3-0 record in the first three games. That AFC East is arguably the best division in football, as all four teams have a winning record and three teams are currently on a playoff trajectory, while the Patriots would be the eighth seed if the season ended now.
All three matchups were tough battles. The victory against the Bills came in overtime, the Patriots lost a one-possession game in Minnesota on Thanksgiving, and the Dolphins lost the punting festival in hot temperatures in Week 6.
The Vikings historically have a 3-8 record all-time against the Jets despite winning the last two. It’s their worst winning percentage against an NFL franchise. Minnesota will also face the Colts in the 2022 season. The Week 15 game is part of the schedule because the NFL added a 17th regular season game one year ago.
Like all other games, Week 13 can potentially have a big impact on the playoff seeding. The Vikings are currently one game behind the Eagles to secure the top spot in the NFC and the valuable bye week in the wild-card round. However, because of the loss in Week 2, Minnesota has to win two more games than the Eagles, and every loss would most likely end that dream. It would be shocking if the 10-1 Eagles somehow lost three or more of their final six games.
The Vikings shouldn’t forget that a different NFC team could also usurp them. Currently, the red-hot 49ers hold the third seed. Kyle Shanahan’s team managed to win their last four games, and they have not allowed a single point in the second half since Week 7 when Patrick Mahomes was the opposing quarterback.
The Vikings have a two-win lead over the 49ers, but they should make sure to keep their spot, as the three seed plays most likely a more challenging opponent in the wild card and could be on the road in the divisional round instead of having a secured home game after a win in the wild-card round.
Quarterback Mike White came into the league in 2018 when the Cowboys picked him in the fifth round of the draft. He made the team in his rookie campaign as the third quarterback. In the following year, the Cowboys waived him after they chose to keep only two passers on the roster, and the decision was to keep Cooper Rush as the backup for Dak Prescott.
The Jets added White to their practice squad. White played four games after Zach Wilson got hurt and started three games. His overall stats were five touchdowns and eight interceptions, a pedestrian stat line for an NFL passer.
However, White passed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start against the eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Cincinnati Bengals. He also had a game with no score but four interceptions. The quarterback can get hot and cold in any game, which is dangerous for the suspect Vikings’ passing defense.
Last week, White started in place of benched quarterback Zach Wilson and torched the Bears’ defense. Granted, that defense also has a lot of holes in it, but White had 315 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He is not a starting-caliber quarterback, but he can get as hot as any quarterback on any given Sunday.
Elite Defense and Elite Matchup
The Jets have a fabulous defense that ranks at the top or close to the top in every available metric. Robert Saleh, the head coach, and former 49ers’ defensive coordinator during their 2019 Super Bowl run, is one of the great defensive minds in the game. His 49ers’ defense beat up the Vikings in the divisional round of the 2019 season.
The defensive unit is built around a strong defensive line, headlined by former top-three pick, Quinnen Williams. The defensive tackle has always been a good player but turned into an All-Pro caliber superstar in the 2022 campaign. He already reached a career-high eight sacks and added seven tackles for loss. He’ll be an unfair matchup for rookie guard Ed Ingram, and the Vikings have to devise a plan to help their weak link in the offensive line.
Another big part of the defense is the cornerback play. Rookie Sauce Gardner might very well be the top cornerback in the league, and some folks already say he should’ve been the first overall pick in April’s draft. Instead, he went fourth overall and is locking down receivers every week.
The rookie is using his unusual size and length to contest passes that give other cornerbacks trouble. Usually, Gardner doesn’t travel with the opponent’s top receiver, but the matchup with Justin Jefferson could change that. Whenever the two are lined up with each other, it is a must-watch.
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Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt
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