With game time just over 48 hours away, it’s appropriate to begin thinking about the Jaguars, Vikings matchup on Sunday. For most analysts and fans across the nation, it’s a lackluster game between two poor teams, but one of them will be 1-0 by about 4:30 on Sunday, and that’s something.
With apologies to Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Vikings, this game will almost certainly be decided by the Jaguars’ offensive line. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
The Jaguars have what I and many others consider a very good defense. I would call them a second tier unit. They’re one step away from being “elite,” and they could certainly make the jump to “elite” if their pass rush comes around. Christian Ponder is operating a very young offense. I can’t help but believe that the Jaguars’ defense will shut down the Vikings’ offense most of the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars will rely heavily on Rashad Jennings and Maurice Jones-Drew to carry the ball and set the tone for the game. As we’re all keenly aware, you can’t run the ball without good blocking.
In the passing game, Blaine Gabbert has been far better under pressure this season than he was last year, but he’s still had moments of happy feet. It’s up to the offensive line, and especially Eugene Monroe, to keep the Vikings’ pass rush at bay. If they can do that, Gabbert will have time, and Blaine Gabbert has been very good so far this year when he’s had time in the pocket.
The Jaguars, in my mind as well as many analysts’ minds, are the favorite going into this game. The Vikings’ offense should struggle, but Jared Allen and the Vikings’ defense have the ability to break a game open with one or two great plays. The Jaguars’ offensive line is the best defense against such plays. If they play well and keep defenders out of the backfield, the Vikings will have a very difficult time beating the Jaguars on Sunday.