The Vikings hit the road for the fourth time in the season's opening seven weeks and they'll do so against a New York Jets team playing its third consecutive home game. Kickoff is slated for noon CT between these two clubs at MetLife Stadium. Here are five storylines to watch this week in the build up to Vikings versus Jets.
1. Rookie QB Darnold next up for resurgent Vikings defense
No. 1 on 3rd downs with a 25.0% opponents' conversion rate for the season. Held the Cardinals to zero of 10 on 3rd downs and zero of two on 4th downs, including a goal line stand. Four sacks and two takeaways. Yes, it's starting to come back together for the Vikings defense as they followed up a solid outing in Philadelphia with a very 2017-like effort against the Cardinals last week. The test this week isn't an easy one, though. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold may lack experience, but he doesn't lack talent or confidence. In the Jets current two-game winning streak, Darnold has 398 passing yards and five touchdowns on 34 completions and he's been the triggerman for an offense that has put up 69 points in the last seven quarters.
2. Dalvin Cook continues push to return
The Vikings got their ground game going last week and would love to keep it going this week on the road against the Jets (more on that in a minute). Their ability to do so would be greatly enhanced by the return of starting running back Dalvin Cook, who has been sidelined for the Bills, Eagles, Cardinals and second half of the Rams games. He was listed as questionable heading into last week's game but was scratched 90 minutes before kickoff, so he appears close to returning. Will this be the week?
3. Vikings running game faces stiffer test this week versus Jets defense
Last week's 195-yard output was the best of the season for the Vikings rushing attack. The effort included a career high 155 yards from Latavius Murray and it featured a pair of rushing touchdowns – one for Murray and one for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Arizona has surrendered the most rushing touchdowns in the League and they rank 31st in rushing yards per game allowed, so this week's test will be significantly stiffer. The Jets rank 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (108.7) and they've permitted just four scores on the ground all season.
4. Banged up Jets secondary faces red hot Vikings passing game
The Jets have a lot of talent in their secondary. But they also have a lot of talented players in the secondary who are dealing with injuries. Star cornerback Trumaine Johnson has missed the past two games with a quad injury, nickel cornerback Buster Skrine sustained a concussion in Week 5 and hasn't returned and now starting safety Marcus Maye has a broken thumb and is expected to miss this week's game. There's no good time to be dealing with injuries, but now is especially ill timed for the Jets because Cousins, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are coming to town. Cousins has 1,921 passing yards already, Thielen has six straight 100-yard games and three games of 10+ receptions and Diggs ranks eighth in the NFL in catches with 40.
5. Richardson returns to face the team that drafted him
The Vikings last played a road game against the Jets in 2010 and they haven't played in MetLife Stadium since an October 2013 game against the NY Giants. But it will be familiar territory nonetheless for one prominent member of the team. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson returns to where his NFL career began this week. Richardson was drafted by the Jets 13th overall in 2013. He played in 58 career games for the Jets, was named 2013 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a 2014 Pro Bowler.
The Vikings Instagram group took over New York to get set for the Vikings matchup on Sunday.