Jaguars vs Vikings Game Preview
In what could be a Super Bowl LIII preview, the Jacksonville Jaguars head to the U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings. The top-two NFL defences clash in what should be an old-school slobber knocker.
The Vikings made a change at centre swapping Case Keenum for the more prolific Kirk Cousins while Jacksonville reshuffled its offence and added to its defence. Both remain elite teams but only one can win.
The Jaguars were 2017’s surprise team. After winning just three games in 2016, Jacksonville finished 10-6 including winning its first division title since 1999 when they still played in the AFC Central. Led by a revamped defence, the Jags were one play away from their first Super Bowl appearance.
They’ll have a tough time replicating last season especially with a tougher schedule and an improved division. But so long as their defence holds, Jacksonville will be a contender.
The Vikings were the only team better than the Jaguars on defence. They finished second against both passing and running and they only got stronger by adding key pieces on both their front and back.
The main change in Minnesota is Cousins. The former Redskin is a better passer than Keenum but still has to plenty to prove. With stars on offence and a powerhouse defence, he shouldn’t need to do much to lead Minnesota to another deep playoff push.
Though both teams sport incredible defences, there is enough talent on the other side of the ball to create enough offence for an exciting game. The running game could be showcased as this is each team’s deepest position on offence. The edge goes to Jacksonville who has the better o-line.
Jaguars vs Vikings Head-to-Head Records
Minnesota and Jacksonville have only met six times beginning in 1998 when the Vikings dropped a 50-burger on the Jaguars who had already clinched their division and weren’t playing too seriously. All-time, the Vikings lead the series 5-1. Jacksonville’s lone win came in 2001 when they blew out Minnesota 33-3 in their own home.
Both the Vikings and Jaguars have endured long spells of losing seasons but more so on Jacksonville. While they’ve had some brilliant seasons, the Jaguars have been mostly horrible since the start of the new millennium. Minnesota has been slightly better.
They’ve both struggled for the most part but with two of the NFL’s best defences, expect to see Minnesota and Jacksonville put on some high-level football with a defensive focus. They could even meet in the Super Bowl soon.
Jacksonville Jaguars Recent History
The Jaguars are renowned as being one of only four teams to never have played in the Super Bowl although they are also the third-youngest franchise. They began in 1995 and quickly ascended to prominence during the Tom Coughlin era. But since 2000, they have only appeared in the playoffs three times.
From 2008 to 2016, the Jaguars didn’t have a single winning season though they surprised everyone in 2017 when they returned to the playoffs and won the AFC South for the first time. They lost in the AFC Championship in a close game versus the Patriots.
With a stellar defence, Jacksonville could finally string consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since the start of the century. But it remains to be seen as the rest of the division continues to get better and the Jaguars are anything but a stable franchise.
Minnesota Vikings Recent History
If you made a graph of the Vikings’ recent records, it’ll resemble a heartbeat. The Vikings have alternated between winning and losing seasons since 2000. They were almost a dynasty in the 1970s and they had a solid run in the late 80s all the way to the late 90s but they have been inconsistent as of late.
The Vikings flirted with greatness during the Adrian Peterson era. The superstar running back was paired with several coaches and quarterbacks most notably former rival Brett Favre in 2009 where they were a bad decision away from the Super Bowl. They would be on the right side of a bad decision in 2017 when they returned to the NFC Championship thanks a to blown tackle from the Saints.
Peterson is gone and the Mike Zimmer era has led Minnesota to two division titles in the last three seasons. With a fearsome defence, all the Vikings need is for their offence to click and they could have another perennial powerhouse akin to the 1970s.
Jacksonville Jaguars Outlook
So long as they keep their ironclad defence intact, the Jaguars will be a threat. They further added to their defence in the NFL Draft when they drafted defensive tackle Bryan Taven in the first-round and safety Ronnie Harrison in the third. They also added cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Offence is where Jacksonville will have plenty of work to do. Leonard Fournette is a stud running back and T.J. Yeldon is a solid backup. The offensive line was problematic in the past but Jacksonville bolstered it during the offseason. Then there’s their main man: Blake Bortles. The quarterback is what makes or breaks this team.
Bortles has the tools to be a superstar but just doesn’t seem too interested in being one. The Jaguars drafted a talented receiver in D.J. Clark and fixed the o-line but if Bortles can’t improve his game, the Jaguars might need to look for a new quarterback. But until they do, their Super Bowl dreams will have to wait.
Minnesota Vikings Outlook
The Vikings finally have a team that is not just a Super Bowl contender but one built for the long-term. The defence has the potential to be an all-time great. It is stacked both in the front and back and has a solid mixture of rising young stars like Anthony Barr (LB) and stone-cold vets like Linval Joseph (DT).
Offensively, the Vikings are electric. Dalvin Cook, if he stays healthy, is a dynamic running back who will be a boon to the running and passing game. Receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are playmakers and Kyle Rudolph is a solid tight end.
Cousins is the x-factor much like Bortles in Jacksonville. The 29-year-old can sling the rock but has yet to show he can win in the postseason. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t need to do too much as Minnesota is so stacked. If it all works out, the Vikings could win their first Super Bowl very soon.
A battle between two defensive juggernauts and yet it’s still possible to have a shootout. Jacksonville did get lit up by San Francisco and Minnesota gave up 38 points to the Eagles. So it is possible that these teams lay off a bit especially since it’s the preseason.
Cousins will likely play the first half with the starters. Chances are he’ll be rusty and still need to develop chemistry with his receivers and with Cook. The Vikings are adjusting to a different quarterback who plays differently from his predecessor.
Bortles will lead the Jaguars and has the benefit of playing behind an upgraded offensive line and a better running back in Fournette. The edge in this game goes to whichever team can jump to a lead. It will be difficult to trust Bortles, Cousins or their backups make anything happen if either team falls behind.
Jacksonville gets the edge mainly due to a better line and a better running game. Minnesota’s defence is a bit more wholesome but they’re also more inexperienced past the starters. Jaguars eke this one out.