Vikings-Jets Game Plan

The statistics leading into the Vikings-Jets game make it seem pretty obvious which way each of the teams will go in search of a win that will be critical to both of their playoff lives. Plus, get the matchups to watch and the impact injuries will have on this game.


The Vikings are on a roll when it comes to running the ball and likely will continue to pound the ball against a Jets' rushing defense that is in the bottom half of the NFL.

Chester Taylor has said he will return after a one-game absence caused by bruised ribs, but Artose Pinner went for 125 yards against the Lions and the Vikings line is blocking well enough that either back could excel.

If the Vikings do go to the air against the Jets' middle-of-the-pack pass defense, it's likely to be with the short, conservative passes that coach and play-caller Brad Childress favors.

However, with the Jets likely to stack in the box — something the Lions started doing in the second half — it might be wise for the Vikings to at least try some play-action with quarterback Brad Johnson.

The Jets' offense, much like the defense, isn't going to strike fear in opponents. New York's running game is statistically better than the pass but that isn't going to coach Eric Mangini and Co. much good against the Vikings.

Minnesota's rushing defense is No. 1 in the NFL and could set a mark as the best of all time. That means quarterback Chad Pennington must go to the air.

Look for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to come out with an aggressive game plan that involves an aerial attack that goes right after the Vikings defensive backs.


Despite all their multiple formations and motion, the Jets apparently had become predictable on offense, as the Bills' defense seemed to be a step ahead of them throughout. So coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to change things up and get the intermediate passing game re-established. It won't be easy, however, making play-action work against Minnesota's tough run defense, which is ranked atop the NFL, allowing only 54.1 yards a game and 2.7 yards per carry.

The Jets need to pressure mistake-prone Minnesota QB Brad Johnson, who has 15 interceptions and only eight touchdown passes in 2006. Chester Taylor has rushed for 1,098 yards at 4.1 yards a carry and is expected to be ready after missing the Detroit game with bruised ribs. He should be feeling healthier after watching tape of how Willis McGahee gashed the Jets' run defense last week.


  • Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie has struggled at times this season in pass protection and will get a tough test in Jets OLB Bryan Thomas. Thomas leads the Jets with a career-high 7.5 sacks and will look to take advantage of McKinnie's shortcomings in the passing game. This includes an ability to beat McKinnie early with a quick move. The one bit of good news for the Vikings is that Thomas is listed as questionable on the injury report because of a shoulder injury.

  • Vikings rookie CB Cedric Griffin did a good job on Lions WR Roy Williams last Sunday and figures to get another test from the Jets' Laveranues Coles. Coles leads New York with 75 receptions for 921 yards and five touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if the Jets try to get Coles matched up against Vikings nickel back Fred Smoot, too. The Lions attempted to pick on Smoot on a frequent basis. In nickel situations, Smoot goes to right corner, Griffin slides to left corner and Antoine Winfield moves into the slot.

  • The Vikings' run game has been very proficient the past three weeks, meaning the Jets will need middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma to step up and play a big role in stopping a rushing attack that figures to get Chester Taylor back after he missed one game. Vilma leads the Jets with 97 tackles this season.

  • Jets RT Anthony Clement vs. Vikings LDE Darrion Scott. Scott has been playing in a reserve role recently, but he still leads Minnesota with 5.5 sacks.


    Running back Chester Taylor is hoping to return after missing Sunday's game at Detroit because of bruised ribs and was upgraded to probable on Friday. Artose Pinner turned out to be the surprise hero against the Lions, rushing for a career-high 125 yards and three touchdowns against his former teammate, but if Taylor can go he'll be the No. 1 guy.

    The season-ending injury to Jets WR-PR Tim Dwight has thrust Leon Washington into the role of the No. 1 punt returner. But he is averaging only 4.0 yards on five punt returns this season. Justin McCareins has inherited Dwight's role as the third receiver, but had only one reception against Buffalo.

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