In Week 13, football fans will be treated to one of the premier matchups of the season. The New York Jets taking on the Minnesota Vikings doesn't necessarily seem like it would qualify for that description on the surface, but when you remember that the Jets defense features Rookie of the Year favorite Sauce Gardner and the Vikings offense employs Justin Jefferson, it begins to take on that sort of air.
Gardner, for his part, is just as excited about the matchup as fans should be.
"These are the types of games I love. I love going against the best," Gardner said, per the New York Post. "When you've got two dominant cornerbacks, you don't really have to stress about anything. We've been holding our own this whole season, so we don't really have to change anything."
Gardner is referring to himself and D.J. Reed, who is having an excellent season in his own right. Among the 129 cornerbacks who have played 150 snaps or more this season, Gardner and Reed rank first (Gardner) and ninth (Reed) in Pro Football Focus' pass coverage grades, and they have combined to allow quarterbacks to complete just 55 of 109 passes (50.5%) for 552 yards (5.1 per attempt), two touchdowns and three interceptions, along with 17 combined pass breakups.
Jets coach Robert Saleh feels confident in Gardner and Reed in this matchup as well. "I'll put our guys up against anybody," Saleh said. "It's going to be a great challenge, but I think it's a challenge that our guys are excited for."
New York has typically played sides with its cornerbacks this season (Gardner on the left, Reed on the right), so Jefferson should see equal amounts of both of them during this game, as the Vikings have moved him all over the formation this year. They might be best served having him in the slot on most of his snaps as that would allow him to avoid both of the stud corners in coverage, but that obviously won't happen on every single snap, which means we'll get to see plenty of him going up against them both.