The Jaguars head north, waaaaay north, to take on the Vikings in Minneapolis this Sunday at 1 pm. Having won four of their last five games, the Vikings are a much-improved team. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are depleted on the defensive side of the ball with several starters on IR. The Jags have lost ten straight games and fired Dave Caldwell, the team's general manager since 2013, after their most recent loss to the Browns. The Vikings are favored by ten points at home against the Jags.
Running the Football
The Jaguars have been able to stay competitive in most of their games lately, thanks largely to their rushing attack. James Robinson has been one of the most productive running backs in football with the third-most rushing yards and fourth-most scrimmage yards in the NFL this year. He's also found the endzone eight times in eleven games. If the Big Cats hope to keep themselves in this contest, Robinson will need to be a major factor. The Vikings' run defense has been up and down in 2020. Most recently, they held the Panthers to just 3.8 yards per carry, but just one week prior, the Cowboys ran the ball all over the Vikings to the tune of 180 rushing yards.
The Vikings' Rushing Attack
The biggest mismatch in this contest will be the Vikings' ground game versus the Jaguars' run defense. Dalvin Cook has been the most effective rusher in the NFL when healthy this year. The former Florida State star could terrorize a depleted Jaguars' defense. The Jaguars are allowing the fourth-most rushing yards in football, while Dalvin Cook has tallied 1,130 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. Yikes.
The Vikings' have one of the most potent one-two punches at wide receiver in football. Adam Thielen has been one of the top wideouts in the game for years, while rookie Justin Jefferson burst onto the NFL season after a magnificent season during LSU's title run in 2019. Jefferson and Thielen have combined for 1,564 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns this year. The Jaguars' sans CJ Henderson, Sidney Jones, and Chris Claybrooks, could have an impossible task on their hands. Rookies Luq Barcoo and Josiah Scott will be forced into prominent roles yet again this week.
Mike Glennon's Second Start
Mike Glennon earned a second consecutive start for the Jaguars as head coach Doug Marrone thinks he gives the team the best chance to win. Glennon proved that he could attack vertically last week against the Browns, and with DJ Chark returning to the lineup this week, that trend should continue. Glennon isn't the most consistently accurate passer in the world, but if he can connect on some chunk plays, it might not matter. Gardner Minshew is fully healthy, so we may see a QB change if Glennon proves ineffective.
The Jaguars' defense is thoroughly outmatched in this contest. And there won't be inclement weather conditions to help them out this week. The Vikings' should have their way with this battered and bruised defense. So, can the Jaguars' offense keep up with the Vikings? While I believe the offensive line and skill position players are talented enough to compete, I'm not sure Glennon will connect on as many plays down the field in week 13. The Jaguars have already been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Vikings are still in the hunt in the NFC. At this point in the season, losses are ultimately wins for the Jaguars' long term franchise health. I expect the Vikings to win by at least a touchdown.
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