It’s that time of the year again. Football season has started and The Minnesota Vikings are set to open their season at home in Minneapolis against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last season both the Jaguars and the Vikings struggled, but both teams are looking to showcase their future quarterbacks. Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert will both start and look to get a much needed win.
After coming off an full off season, both Ponder and Gabbert are looking to establish themselves as the future of their franchises. This second-year quarterback match up will be interesting as both will have their star running backs limited, if playing at all. Ponder’s preseason stats include 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and 331 yards on a 60.5% completion percentage with a passer rating of 86.6. Gabbert’s preseason consisted of 3 touchdowns, o interceptions, and 355 yards on 61% completed with a passer rating of 95.0. Needless to say both quarterbacks looked improved.
Minnesota running back Arian Peterson is arguably the best the back in the league with his versatility, speed, and ability to break tackles. After going down with an ACL tear last December, Peterson received reconstructive left knee surgery and will be a game-time decision this Sunday.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew recently ended a holdout which will force him to be “limited”. the Pro-Bowl running back is the Jaguars best offensive threat as he lead the lead in rushing yards last season with a total of 1,606 yards. Vikings’ backup Toby Gerhart will likely get a majority of the carries against the Jaguars due to Adrian Peterson being limited. Toby quietly gets the job done with his ferocious power and deceptive speed, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
Due to Jerome Simpson being suspended the first 3 games, Michael Jenkins will likely get the start as on outside receiver. The Vikings will rely heavily on Stephen Burton, Devin Aromashadou, and Michael Jenkins to carry the load the first 3 weeks or the regular season. Second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph has portrayed his excellent hands making some highlight reel catches last season, now he just needs to become more of a red zone threat.
Jacksonville has some talent of there own at the wide receiver and tight end positions. With the 5th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected receiver Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars also added former Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson in free agency to help bolster a lacking receiving core. In his junior year at Oklahoma State, Justin Blackmon had 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns and an even better sophomore season with 1,782 yards on 20 touchdowns. Tight end Marcedes Lewis is a big, athletic target similar to Kyle Rudolph. Although he didn’t have any touchdowns last season, his size and pure athleticism makes him a target on almost any play.
Defensively the Vikings have a huge advantage with players like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robison. Last year the Vikings tied for the most sacks (50) in the NFL – 22 of them coming from Jared Allen. The Jaguars were 25th in the league in that category with only 31 sacks that was led the way by defensive end Jeremy Mincey.
The Vikings secondary should be much improved this year with the return of Antoine Winfield coming off a broken clavicle injury and the return of troubled corner Chris Cook. The Vikings also drafted the rookie safety Harrison Smith from Notre Dame with the 29th pick in the draft and later selected speedster Josh Robinson in the 3rd round.
Despite Jacksonvilles defensive line, the defense as a whole was 6th in the league in opponents yards per game with only 313.0. The Vikings however were 21st in the league in that category with total of 358.2 opponents yards per game. The Vikings will be missing some special team players due to injury, but the Jaguars have listed linebacker Daryl Smith, arguably their best defensive player, out for the game against the Vikings