1. How much will AP Play?
All of Minnesota (and the Fantasy football world) will have their eyes on No. 28 at the Metrodome on Sunday as the question of whether Adrian Peterson plays will finally be answered. Just eight months back from knee surgery, Peterson vowed to return for the opener, and you can be sure coach Leslie Frazier won't deny him achieving that goal. The question is, how much will he play? Early estimates have been 5 to 10 snaps, while the latest rumors are 10 to 15 plays. Regardless, there will be a loud roar at the Dome when Peterson runs onto the field -- and an even louder one if he gets into the end zone.
2. Rookie starters
The Vikings have two rookie starters in the lineup with first-rounders LT Matt Kalil and S Harrison Smith playing their first regular-season NFL game. Kalil's contribution will be key because he'll focus on keeping Jaguars rookie Andre Branch off QB Christian Ponder's blindside all afternoon. On defense, Smith will need to take charge of a secondary that has a second- and third-year player (S Mistral Raymond and CB Chris Cook, respectively) and might see another rookie, CB Josh Robinson, in nickel defense. If the game isn't too big for these rookies, and they can avoid a huge learning curve, the Vikings' rebuilding effort will take a big leap forward.
3. Ponder's command of the offense
This game and the 2012 season will hinge on the development of Ponder, who begins his second NFL season Sunday. Is he light years ahead of last season as his QB coach proclaimed in camp? Can he stay in the pocket long enough to find his second or third option downfield? Can he find WR Percy Harvin in a defense that will surely be keying on him since WR Jerome Simpson is out and Peterson will be limited? Is he the leader of the offense that the Vikings' staff drafted him to be? The answers to these questions will start to reveal themselves against the Jaguars.
4. Containing Jones-Drew
The Jaguars have said RB Maurice Jones-Drew, the league's leading rusher from last season, will see limited action after returning a week ago after a contract dispute. The Vikings aren't buying it. "'He's a 'third-down back,' yeah right,” Vikings DE Jared Allen said. Although he may not start, Jones-Drew will get plenty of action. It's crucial that the Vikings' defensive front seven find him, bottle him up and send him back to the sidelines.
5. Return of the pass rush
One of the NFL's top pass-rushing defenses returns this season for the Vikings with quarterback sack king Allen back looking for more. DE Brian Robison (eight sacks in his first year as a starter) said the goal is to take away the run and make the Jaguars one-dimensional and then get after their young quarterback. If he and Allen (22 sacks in 2011) can start where they left off last season and disrupt second-year QB Blaine Gabbert, it will go a long way toward helping Minnesota win its season opener.
For more Vikings news and notes, follow Joe Oberle on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLMIN and @joeoberle.