Week 1: Minnesota Vikings Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
Jacksonville Jaguars v Carolina Panthers
The Vikings are operating under the theory that Christian Ponder will be much improved this season and all reports indicate that he has made strides. Ponder is going to have to demonstrate improved accuracy and decision making early in the season.
Winner There’s little doubt that Blaine Gabbert has all the physical characteristics that are needed to play the quarterback position. However, his instincts are still developing and that means he will make a lot of mistakes.
Winner There aren’t many teams that will feature a running back as the primary factor in the offense the way the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. The offensive line could be much improved with Matt Kalil knocking defensive linemen around.
Despite the ugliness of his preseason holdout, it seems likely that Maurice Jones-Drew will be back. Justin Blackmon looks like a real player and Laurent Robinson looks like a real player at the other receiver spot.
The Vikings lacked cohesiveness on defense last year but new coordinator Alan Williams will closely follow Les Frazier’s philosophy that depends largely on discipline and positional play and not blitzing. Jared Allen is still an explosive pass rusher but he could start to slow down this year.
Winner While the Jaguars were a 5-11 team last season, there was significant improvement on the defensive end under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. They went from 28th in the league to 6th, and they should continue to improve this year because Andre Branch can turn the corner and explode.
Special Teams
Special teams were troublesome for the Vikings last year and punter Chris Kluwe needs to show some improvement. Rookie placekicker Blair Walsh replaces inconsistent Ryan Longwell.
Winner It’s hard to find fault with placekicker Josh Scobee, who connected on 23-of-25 field goal attempts last year. The Jags drafted punter Bryan Anger in the third round and they need him to be a momentum turner.

The Winner Is

Jacksonville Jaguars v Carolina Panthers
Winner Jaguars
3 out of 4

The Jaguars are probably the most low-profile team in the NFL, but they should be solid on defense and special teams. That should be enough against a Vikings team that is trying to rebuild and hoping that Adrian Peterson will be healthy and ready to roll at the start of the season.


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  2. Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    Colin Kaepernick is under extreme pressure to produce at a high level. That has not been happening, and the 49ers are in danger of seeing their season fall apart.

  3. Peyton Manning (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0.
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    Peyton Manning appears to have come to terms with the deficiencies in his game at this point. He can no longer whistle the ball downfield at the last minute, and some medium-range passes are difficult as well.

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