JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Bucky Brooks, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: Quarterback Mike Glennon has a big day throwing downfield. Minnesota does allow a lot of points and they will focus on stopping Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson. Glennon will have to take some chances. If so, the Jaguars could snap their 10-game losing streak.
The Vikings will win if: Running back Dalvin Cook runs effectively. Cook has been arguably the best back in the NFL this season. He is banged up with a bad ankle. If he's healthy, he's very difficult to contain. With rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson and the return of veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen against a young and beaten-up Jaguars secondary, Minnesota should be able to score plenty.
As Ballou sees it: Minnesota has played much better football lately, winning four of their last five games. They must continue their winning to grab a Wild Card in the NFC. The Jaguars once again will play hard and it will be a 60-minute game, but the Vikings will give Jacksonville its 11th consecutive loss.
Tony Boselli, Pride of the Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They must create some turnovers on defense, and must get a big game from Robinson. The margin for victory right now for the Jaguars is thin, and they must steal some possessions to beat a Vikings team that is fighting to stay alive in the playoff race.
The Vikings will win if: They run with Cook, and jump on the Jaguars early. The last thing they want to do is allow the Jaguars to make it a fourth-quarter game where one mistake or big play can determined the outcome.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars as an organization haven't had much success in Minnesota, as I've experienced first-hand. They must win all three phases, but with all the injuries and facing a hot Vikings team, it's a lot to ask. The Jaguars will play hard and tough, but will come up just a little short: Vikings 31, Jaguars 25.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They finish the job they have started in most recent games. Other than a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville has been in every game – a possession or two from winning. They continue to show fight — and play hard for Head Coach Doug Marrone and each other. If the Jaguars control Cook, get another big game from Robinson and keep it close they could win.
The Vikings will win if: Cook gets going and they stop Robinson on first down; Minnesota would love to make the Jaguars pass. The Vikings are clinging to playoff hopes, so every game matters to them; they will play hard. But this one could be another close one for Jacksonville.
As Frangie sees it: There may just be too much for the Jaguars to overcome. I think it will be close, but if the Vikings slow Robinson, I think points will be tough to come by for the Jaguars. They will battle and I think will get it to a fourth-quarter game. Then see what happens.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They control time of possession and keep the Vikings' offense off the field. The Jaguars' offensive line must pave the way for Robinson, allowing him to surpass 1,000 yards rushing on the season. Robinson must be the "better" running back on the day.
The Vikings will win if: They protect the ball and Cook has a solid day, allowing quarterback Kirk Cousins to stay out of tough yardage situations. Thielen is back and pairing him with Jefferson will be a tough matchup for an injury riddled Jaguars secondary.
As Lageman sees it: This is a tough matchup for a young team facing a Vikings team that must win to keep playoff hopes alive. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in football and will test Glennon in his second start for the Jaguars. If you like some old-school football, this is a great game for you with Cook and Robinson pounding the ground. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks will be a handful for the Jaguars to block.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: Glennon, Robinson and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. outduel Cousins, Cook and Jefferson. That's a tall task, but that's what it will take. There will be a lot of good players on the field Sunday and the Jaguars need their young offensive players to shine the brightest.
The Vikings will win if: They don't lose the turnover battle. Minnesota is better, and what evens that up usually are turnovers. If the Vikings take care of the ball, they should win the home game.
As Martineau sees it: The Jaguars are playing hard, but not getting the desired result. I expect that to happen again Sunday. Minnesota is not only better but the Vikings should be hungry to sneak back into the playoff mix in the NFC. I think the Vikings will take care of business, 27-16.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They play their best defensive game of the season. The Vikings are a remarkably tough opponent for the Jaguars' struggling defense – a balanced offense that can run effectively with Cook and hit big plays with Cousins, Thielan and Jefferson. The beat-up, young Jaguars defense may have to get some breaks to keep this close.
The Vikings will win if: Stay focused. The Vikings have worked their way back into the playoff chase after a 1-5 start, but needed a dramatic rally against Carolina last week to move to within a game of .500. The Vikings are usually a consistent team under Zimmer. It's hard to see them overlooking the 1-10 Jaguars.
As Oehser sees it: This is as tough a test as the Jaguars will face this season – yes, as tough as earlier games against division-leading Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The Vikings are motivated by a chance to get into the postseason race. They're mentally tough. They have perhaps the most-balanced offense the Jaguars will face this season. And they're playing at home. Yes, this is a tough one. Probably too tough.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can stop Cook. Many have tried this season; few have been successful. The Browns ran for more than 200 yards to beat the Jaguars last week in a close game. The Vikings are certainly capable of taking over on the ground. If the Jaguars can do to Cook what they were unable to do against Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt they will give themselves a chance.
The Vikings will win if: They stay hot. Behind Cook and Jefferson, the Vikings have won four of their last five games. Cook is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 128 yards per game over the last five. Jefferson is averaging 17.7 yards per catch and has five receptions of 35 or more yards. That has dramatically increased Cousins' effectiveness and the Vikings have gone from 1-5 to the cusp of a playoff spot.
As Sexton sees it: The Vikings must have this game, so they'll get it. Teams that must win in December generally beat teams without the same postseason motivation. Plus it's in Minnesota and that's a really difficult place to play, especially for a team that is as young and without as many key players as the Jaguars right now.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They control the ball and play out of their minds on defense. Continue with the strong special teams play, field position, maybe a return. Score touchdowns. New week, rinse and repeat.
The Vikings will win if: They get an early lead of a couple scores. Cousins has a rating over 100 the last five games and the Vikings are 4-1 in that time. Cook is one of the most explosive running backs in the league. All that against a patchwork Jaguars defense is a bad combination.
As Shadrick sees it: If a Gjallarhorn sounds and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a noise? Fans or no fans, this will be a tough matchup for the Jaguars considering how the Vikings are playing – and the Vikings must have this game to stay in the playoff conversation. The Jaguars seem to be still fighting and focused each week, but with the calendar flipped to December, the light at the end of the tunnel is now within sight and getting closer by the day.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They frazzle Cousins. The Vikings went from 1-5 to being in the playoff conversation thanks to their quarterback. Cousins' turnovers were a problem at the beginning of the season; if the Jaguars can bring that out of him by pressuring and blitzing, they will stay in this game. Giving the offense some extra possessions is never a bad thing.
The Vikings will win if: Their offensive weapons play like they have been playing. Cook, Thielen, Jefferson … the list goes on. Minnesota's offense is spread out and the Jaguars will have trouble slowing it down, especially with some key pieces on defense not playing due to injury. If the Vikings are as efficient as they have been on offense the past few weeks, the Jags could be in for a tough day.
As Sullivan sees it: At the beginning of November, I felt pretty good about this game; I even circled it as a potential victory. After watching the Vikings play the past few weeks, I think their offense is going to be too much for a young, injured Jags defense to handle. I do not expect it to be a blowout; Jacksonville will come fighting into Minnesota, but a lot of things must go perfectly for the Jaguars to pull off the upset.