Week 1: Minnesota Vikings Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
Jacksonville Jaguars v Carolina Panthers
The Vikings are operating under the theory that Christian Ponder will be much improved this season and all reports indicate that he has made strides. Ponder is going to have to demonstrate improved accuracy and decision making early in the season.
Winner There’s little doubt that Blaine Gabbert has all the physical characteristics that are needed to play the quarterback position. However, his instincts are still developing and that means he will make a lot of mistakes.
Winner There aren’t many teams that will feature a running back as the primary factor in the offense the way the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. The offensive line could be much improved with Matt Kalil knocking defensive linemen around.
Despite the ugliness of his preseason holdout, it seems likely that Maurice Jones-Drew will be back. Justin Blackmon looks like a real player and Laurent Robinson looks like a real player at the other receiver spot.
The Vikings lacked cohesiveness on defense last year but new coordinator Alan Williams will closely follow Les Frazier’s philosophy that depends largely on discipline and positional play and not blitzing. Jared Allen is still an explosive pass rusher but he could start to slow down this year.
Winner While the Jaguars were a 5-11 team last season, there was significant improvement on the defensive end under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. They went from 28th in the league to 6th, and they should continue to improve this year because Andre Branch can turn the corner and explode.
Special Teams
Special teams were troublesome for the Vikings last year and punter Chris Kluwe needs to show some improvement. Rookie placekicker Blair Walsh replaces inconsistent Ryan Longwell.
Winner It’s hard to find fault with placekicker Josh Scobee, who connected on 23-of-25 field goal attempts last year. The Jags drafted punter Bryan Anger in the third round and they need him to be a momentum turner.

The Winner Is

Jacksonville Jaguars v Carolina Panthers
Winner Jaguars
3 out of 4

The Jaguars are probably the most low-profile team in the NFL, but they should be solid on defense and special teams. That should be enough against a Vikings team that is trying to rebuild and hoping that Adrian Peterson will be healthy and ready to roll at the start of the season.


  1. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass in the first quarter against Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Running back Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by nose tackle Kenny Clark #97 and cornerback Demetri Goodson #39 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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  2. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles avoids Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings as he runs for a first down during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-16.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Week 8 Tale Of The Tape: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

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  3. GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles out of the pocked during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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