When: Noon Sunday, U.S. Bank Stadium
TV, radio: Ch. 4, 100.3-FM
Line: Vikings by 3½
THREE STORY LINES
An early December clinch? It's possible: With a win on Sunday and a Lions loss to the Jaguars, the Vikings (9-2) would win their first NFC North title since 2017 and become the seventh team in the Super Bowl era to clinch the division with five games to go in the season. The Vikings' trip to Detroit next week will be their first division road game this season; it's possible they'll have the NFC North title wrapped up before then.
White, not Wilson, at QB for Jets: The Jets (7-4) benched Zach Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, a week ago in favor of Mike White, the fifth-year player who made his fourth career start. White will be the Jets' quarterback again after completing 22 of his 28 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-10 win over the Bears, who barely pressured him. The Vikings will try to put more heat on White.
Jets' defense the latest test for Vikings offense: In the first two games of their three-game homestand, the Vikings faced the league's top two defenses in quarterback pressures. The Jets, who rank fifth in pressures and fourth in points allowed, are up next. "What you see is that scheme that [head coach] Robert [Saleh] brought there from San Fran," offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said. "They can get pressure with a four-man rush, which is always challenging in any scheme."
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Jets CB Ahmad Gardner: The Jets haven't asked their star rookie cornerback to shadow receivers, so Jefferson might see direct coverage from Gardner for only a handful of snaps. When the two are lined up across from each other, though, the matchup could be the highlight of the game. Jefferson continues to shatter receiving records in the first three years of his career; Gardner leads the league with 14 pass breakups. Both have said they're looking forward to the matchup, and they could create fireworks on Sunday.
Vikings C Garrett Bradbury vs. Jets DT Quinnen Williams: Three AFC East teams drafted defensive tackles before the Vikings took Bradbury 18th overall in 2019. Williams, the third overall pick out of Alabama in that draft, could turn out to be the best of the group. He has a career-high eight sacks already this season to go with seven additional tackles for loss. Bradbury has struggled with dynamic defensive tackles at times during his career; Williams will provide a good test in what's likely been the best year of the center's career.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
1.3: The difference in the average yards per play allowed by the Jets' defense (4.8, tied for the second-best figure in the league) and the Vikings' defense (which allows 6.1 yards per play, more than every team except the Lions).
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They can keep themselves in manageable down-and-distance situations against a difficult Jets front seven, minimize turnovers against an opportunistic defense and find places where Jefferson can hurt the Jets' secondary. The Vikings could also take advantage of Dalvin Tomlinson's return to put pressure on White, especially with Michael Carter (the team's primary running back with Breece Hall out for the season) likely to miss the game because of an ankle injury.
THE JETS WILL WIN IF …
White has as many clean pockets and places to go over the middle of the field as Mac Jones did on Thanksgiving night, while the Jets' front seven can corral a struggling Vikings running game and put Kirk Cousins in position to turn the ball over under pressure. Few teams have found an answer for Jefferson lately; Gardner could give the Jets a chance to slow him, and they'll likely need him to control the receiver if they want to win on the road.
The Jets' defense presents another major challenge for the Vikings, especially if Williams can pressure Cousins in the middle of the field. The Vikings, though, should be able to make things harder for White than the Bears did, and if the Minnesota pass rush comes back to life against a banged-up Jets offensive line, the Vikings should be able to close their three-game homestand with a win and at least a share of the NFC North title. Vikings 23, Jets 17