Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings: Bold Predictions for Each Team

Jeremy SickelContributor IIISeptember 9, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball during pre-game warmups before the game against the San Diego Chargers on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday's opener in a game that could potentially decide who gets a higher pick in next year's NFL draft.

Running backs will be the primary focus in this matchup.

The Vikings' Adrian Peterson will be trying to gain traction in his return from a torn ACL he suffered last season. While he has been limited, Peterson says he is ready to play. It will be interesting to see just how that translates onto the field.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars have missed their top running back for a much different reason, as Maurice Jones-Drew decided to hold out through the entire preseason. 

Jacksonville has named Rashad Jennings the starter, but MJD should receive plenty of playing time. 

As both rushing attacks will be in the spotlight, this has the potential to be the dud of the NFL's opening weekend.

Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday's opener:

Blaine Gabbert Has His Best Day as a Pro with 250 Passing Yards and 3 Touchdowns

The Jaguars will go as Jones-Drew goes this year. He is the heart and soul of this team.

However, easing him back into playing shape will allow quarterback Blaine Gabbert greater opportunities to prove that he was indeed worth the high draft pick that Jacksonville spent on him last year.

The Vikings gave up 251 passing yards per game last season while finishing dead last, having given up 34 touchdowns through the air as well.

If MJD isn't able to return to form, and Jennings isn't the answer, Gabbert will have to use his arm if the Jaguars want to leave Minnesota victorious.

While Gabbert was never able to hit his stride during his rookie year, drawing a porous Minnesota pass defense in the opener could boost his confidence.

Adrian Peterson Finishes the Game with Less than 7 Touches

Peterson says he is ready to go, but the Vikings should be cautious with the face of the franchise. No AP for a significant period of time will equate to a long season in Minnesota, and it could signal the downfall of a once-promising career.

The Vikings may want to get off to a hot start in front of its home fans. But the Jaguars are coming to town, so Minnesota might not need to overdo it with Peterson's playing time to pull out a victory.

It will all depend on how the early part of the game plays out and if Peterson feels good when his number is called, but there are several scenarios that could play out where AP sees very little action.

Either way, the Vikings shouldn't push Peterson in his return. His long-term health is far more important to him and the franchise than this one game.


Contact Jeremy at jeremy@popflyboys.com, on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy and at popflyboys.com.