NFL Picks Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, 9/9/12, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Minnesota -4.5
Current Betting Line:  Minnesota -4
Opening Total:  38
Current Total:  39.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Vikings Bills NFL Preview
Nobody knows if Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will see the field on Sunday

Jacksonville is looking to move forward from a disappointing season a year ago, matching up with an opponent that also suffered a double-digit loss campaign.  The Jaguars had the worst passing offense in the league a year ago, which means that second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert needs to improve upon his passer rating that finished 34th in the league.  The running game is going to take some time to develop, with running back Maurice Jones-Drew just getting back to camp after missing the offseason due to a contract dispute.  Jacksonville is 2-4 ATS in September the last two-plus seasons.

The Jaguars believe they’ve improved on the perimeter with the selection of Justin Blackmon in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, while Mike Thomas was arguably the preseason Player of the Month for the franchise.  Gabbert’s numbers are tough to ignore, completing just 50.8 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  The offensive line must keep him upright this season in hopes of getting the ball down field, allowing the seventh-most sacks in the league a year ago.

Minnesota has plenty of question marks entering its season opener, especially if star running back Adrian Peterson is unable to go after working his way back onto the practice field after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year.  “We realize if he’s able to get in this first ball game, it’ll be with limited exposure,” commented Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier.  The Vikings have won three of the four meetings in this series, including a 30-12 victory as one-point road underdogs on Nov. 23, 2008.  Minnesota is 5-9 ATS at home the last two years.

The Vikings will need to put up some points in order to win this game, as the victor in this series has scored at least 27 points in the four games.  Not having Peterson and Jones-Drew be a major part of this game is significant, as they rank first and second in the league respectively in rushing yards since the 2007 campaign.  Defensively, the squad will likely be led by its defensive line play, with the unit combining for 50 quarterback sacks.

Sports bettors will likely back the Vikings due to their 7-3 ATS mark in Week 1, while the Jaguars are 1-4 ATS in September.

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