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5 Vikings-Jaguars Storylines to Watch in Week 13

The Vikings (5-6) will aim for their fifth win in six games since a Week 7 bye and the .500 mark for the first time in 2020 on Sunday when they host the 1-10 Jaguars.

Just two seasons ago, Minnesota hosted Jacksonville for joint practices and a preseason game after each team had played in its conference championship.

The Vikings are 23-19-1 in 43 regular-season games since the exhibition contest; the Jaguars are 12-31.

Despite a rough start, Minnesota is within striking distance of a berth in the NFC Playoffs that expanded this past spring to include seven teams. Check out a breakdown here.

Here are five storylines to watch this week, as well as a link below to the game preview by the Vikings PR staff and a list of connections between the teams.

1. Calendar has changed, will production remain?

Dalvin Cook twice won NFC Offensive Player of the Week (8 and 9) and broke Robert Smith's franchise record of 801 scrimmage yards in November with 832, the fourth-most by any player in NFL history.

The fourth-year running back totaled 641 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 127 carries and also opened the month with a back-breaking 50-yard receiving touchdown against the Packers. That score was one of 17 receptions for 191 yards through the air.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins also had a November to remember. He completed 105 of 145 passes (72.4 percent) for 1,293 yards and 12 touchdowns. His month-long passer rating of 124.3 led the NFL.

Cook and Cousins have strong cases for NFC Player of the Month, which is scheduled to be announced Thursday.

We'll keep you posted on that, but in the meantime, it will be interesting to see if both can keep up their production in the season's final five weeks.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

2. Can Kendricks continue his streak?

Eric Kendricks has recorded an interception in each of his past three home games, and all three of the picks have occurred when opponents have been inside Minnesota's 20-yard line.

Kendricks' pick of Teddy Bridgewater was early in the game but proved incredibly important in Minnesota's 28-27 comeback victory on Carolina. Kendricks showed his instincts and a controlled aggressiveness in nabbing the ball before running back Mike Davis got to the spot.

3. Containing Robinson's rookie run

This week, it's up to Kendricks and Co. to contain the threat of undrafted rookie running back James Robinson, who has rushed for 890 of Jacksonville's 1,113 yards and six of its eight scores on the ground.

Robinson has added 280 yards and two more touchdowns on 36 receptions, giving him 1,170 scrimmage yards.

In the Common Draft era, only five undrafted rookies have posted 1,000-plus scrimmage yards. Robinson has passed 1,021 by LeGarrette Blount (2010) and 1,124 by Clark Gaines (1976). He trails Phillip Lindsay (1,278 in 2018) and Dominic Rhodes (1,328 in 2001).

Minnesota's defense has allowed 120.7 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 19th in the NFL.

Six opponents have exceeded that average this season, and the Vikings are 1-5 in such games.

4. Covering Cole

Keelan Cole, Sr., returned six punts over the course of three games from Week 9 through 11, but none was bigger than his 91-yard touchdown at Green Bay on Nov. 15.

Cole's score gave Jacksonville a 10-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Cole, who averaged 17.8 yards per reception as a rookie in 2017, is averaging 12.7 per catch this season, but he caught a 12-yard touchdown that tied the Green Bay game at 17.

His average punt return is a scary 21.2 yards, but it is significantly inflated by the one play among a small sample size.

Nonetheless, that's quite a threat for a Vikings punt coverage unit that ranks 26th in the NFL, having allowed 11.0 yards per punt return.

5. Not taking 10 for granted

After home losses already to a previously winless Falcons team in Week 6 and a Dallas squad that hasn't won any other game since Oct. 11, it should go without saying that the Vikings aren't going to take lightly any foe, even one on a 10-game losing streak.

Minnesota's poor start to the season and the loss to Dallas have left little room for error if players and coaches are going to achieve the annual significant goal of making the playoffs.

The Vikings made enough plays at key moments to win last week but also made enough mistakes to lose. Protecting the football and winning field position are important in any NFL game.

The Jaguars have five losses by 8 or fewer points this season, including 27-25 to the Texans, 24-20 to the Packers and 27-25 to the Browns since Nov. 8.

Local Connections

Vikings T Rashod Hill and CB Chris Jones are both from Jacksonville, and RB Mike Boone's hometown of Macclenny is about 30 minutes west of Jacksonville.

Jaguars TE Ben Ellefson is from Hawley, Minnesota, and played for the Nuggets before attending North Dakota State.

Jacksonville OL Ben Bartch played college football at St. John's.

Vikings-Jaguars Connections

Vikings Senior Defensive Assistant Dom Capers coached for the Jaguars in 2019.

Minnesota T Rashod Hill joined the Vikings after beginning his career with Jacksonville.

Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu coached for the Jaguars from 2005-09.

Jaguars K Chase McLaughlin was signed from the Vikings practice squad earlier this season.

Jacksonville assistant offensive line coach Tony Sparano, Jr., is the son of the late Minnesota offensive line coach, Tony Sparano, who was with the Vikings from 2016 until his tragic passing in July 2018.

View photos of which causes Vikings players are supporting with their one-of-a-kind cleats in this season's 'My Cause My Cleats' campaign.

Professional Connections

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer overlapped with Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden in Cincinnati.

Mike Zimmer worked with Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop in Dallas (2003-04).

Adam Zimmer worked with Jacksonville Head Coach Doug Marrone and assistant special teams coach Mike Mallory in New Orleans.

Gruden was head coach in Washington from 2014-19, coaching Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins for four seasons. Jacksonville offensive assistant Chris O'Hara worked with Cousins in 2017. Cousins teamed with Jaguars RB Dare Ogunbowale in Washington in 2017

Vikings Senior Defensive Assistant Dom Capers and Jaguars quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo were on staff together with the Packers from 2006-13.

Jaguars Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis (1989-92) overlapped in Denver with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison. The three reunited in the Rockies in 2015 and were joined by Vikings tight ends coach Brian Pariani and assistant offensive line coach Phil Rauscher. Minnesota quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak joined Denver in 2016. Vikings P Britton Colquitt was with Denver in 2015, and Jaguars DT Adam Gotsis played for the Broncos from 2016-19.

DeCamillis worked with Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu during his first stint in Jacksonville more than a decade ago.

Colquitt was teammates with Jaguars LB Joe Schobert with the Browns.

Jacksonville running backs coach Terry Robiskie overlapped with Polamalu, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf and Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson in Cleveland. Robiskie was Titans offensive coordinator during Vikings WR Tajaé Sharpe's first two seasons.

Sharpe teamed with Jaguars LB Kamalei Correa in Tennessee.

Vikings defensive backs coach Daronte Jones coached Jaguars CB Greg Mabin in Cincinnati last season.

College Connections

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson played at LSU with Jaguars WR DJ Chark, Jr., and LB K'Lavon Chaisson.

Minnesota LBs Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr [IR] teamed with Jacksonville LB Myles Jack at UCLA.

Vikings TE Irv Smith, Jr., and Jaguars T Cam Robinson overlapped at Alabama.

Minnesota C Garrett Bradbury and Jacksonville OL Will Richardson, Jr., teamed at N.C. State.

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph and S Harrison Smith were at Notre Dame with Jaguars TE Tyler Eifert.

Minnesota CB Cameron Dantzler overlapped with Jacksonville P Logan Cooke at Mississippi State.

Vikings DE/DT Hercules Mata'afa and Jaguars DT Daniel Ekuale joined forces at Washington State.

Minnesota CB Kris Boyd and Jacksonville WR Collin Johnson are former Texas Longhorns.

Vikings CB Chris Jones and Jaguars RB Devine Ozigbo teamed at Nebraska.

Minnesota DE Jalyn Holmes and Jacksonville DT DaVon Hamilton were on Ohio State's defensive line for three seasons together.

Vikings DT James Lynch teamed with Jaguars LS Ross Matiscik at Baylor.

Minnesota LB Ryan Connelly and Jacksonville RB Dare Ogunbowale teamed at Wisconsin.

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