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Talking Points: Jaguars vs. Vikings

Sunday, the Jaguars host the Vikings for the first time ever. The two teams have played three times before, but every game has been in Minnesota. Here are the topics that we’ll be looking forward to before the game, following during the game and analyzing after the game.

1. Focus and Effort-So far this year, the Jaguars effort has not been a problem, but after last week’s loss to the Titans, my radar will be on. It’s easy to see how effort could lag a bit if the team accepts that they are out of the playoff picture. We’ll be watching.

2. Matt Jones Return?-Jones missed last week’s game against the Titans with an injury, but he’s expected back this week. What kind of an impact will Jones make? He’s been the only reliable wide receiver this year, hauling in 50 passes already. That’s more than anyone had last year for the Jaguars.

3. Slow Down AP-Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running back is the best back Jack Del Rio has ever seen. Or so the head coach says. We know this, he’s terrific and this year he leads the league in rushing, averaging 110 yards per game. The Jaguars are ranked 20th against the run this year, so if they are going to win, they’ll have to do better than that.

4. Can Jaguars Run?-In contrast to the inconsistent run defense of the Jaguars, the Vikings trail only Pittsburgh in the NFL against the run. Neither Fred Taylor nor Maurice Jones-Drew have enjoyed a 100 yard rushing game since Maurice Drew’s 125 yard day against the Broncos five weeks ago. The Jaguars just aren’t a very good running team right now because they aren’t powerful enough on the offensive line. This could be a real problem on Sunday.

5. Connections-Jack Del Rio, Mike Tice and Troy Williamson all have Vikings connections. Del Rio enjoyed his best seasons as a player in Minnesota and that’s where he met Tony Dungy and Denny Green, the two coaches who may have had the biggest impact on Del Rio’s coaching style. Tice, now the Jaguars assistant head coach, was the head coach in Minnesota, but got into all kinds of trouble and lost control of his team. Williamson was a former first round pick for the Vikings, and he does not like current Vikings head coach Brad Childress. Earlier this week, he said (maybe) tongue in cheek that he would meet Childress at the 50 yard line for a fight. Williamson will not play because of a groin injury.

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