Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Time: NOON (EST), CBS
Spread: MIN -10.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Minnesota Vikings are 5-6 but in second place in the NFC North. It trails Green Bay by three games, but the Vikings should still be quite in play for a wildcard berth if it cannot overtake the Packers in the division. It hosts visiting Jacksonville as 10.5-point favorites. The game will air at Noon (EST) on CBS, with an over-under set at 52 total points according to NFL oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Minnesota Vikings had a rough start in 2020. It lost its first three games, but since it has won five of seven, including four of its last five. Last week, it defeated the Carolina Panthers 28-7, and it lost to Dallas the week before. Prior to the loss to the Cowboys, it had won three-straight. All signs point to the Vikings being closer to a contender than a pretender, but its sub-.500 mark cannot be ignored either.
The Vikings rank No. 6 in the NFL in rushing yards, with 145.7 per game. It is middle-of-the-pack in its passing attack, with 241.4 yards to its credit in the air. Overall, the result is a No. 12 ranked scoring offense with 26.5 points per contest. The defense does surrender more, at 27.7 and the sixth-worst in the league.
Minnesota turned to Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and he is certainly producing as he was once expected to. Cousins has 2,768 yards and 23 touchdowns with just 11 picks. He has been sacked nearly two times per game, but he has a passer rating of 104.5, and his top receivers have all gotten off to smashing seasons, paced by Justin Jefferson’s 918 yards and 37 first downs.
Jefferson is bolstered by three others with at least 200 yards on the year, including tight end Kyle Rudolph who has caught 28 of 35 targeted passes for 334 yards and a touchdown. Adam Theilen ranks No. 2 in yardage at 646, but he is the team leader in touchdown catches with 11 of the team’s 23.
The Vikings definitely also have the rush attack to frame that passing excellence. It manages five yards-per-carry as a team, with top option Dalvin Cook bolstering that cause at 5.2 yards-per-touch. He has 1,130 yards this season with 13 of the 14 Vikings’ rushing touchdowns. Alexander Mattison is the No. 2 option with 338 yards but only about one-third as many carries as Cook. He tallies 4.6 yards-per-carry, while Cousins adds 77 yards on 4.8 per. The Vikings have a lot of ways to move the chain, and the efficiency of the offense should eventually translate to a top-10 scoring unit, as it is already on the cusp of that. Better execution will result in an offense that can make up for the lackluster defensive unit this team possesses.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a rough time this season, going just 1-10, sitting deep in its division cellar, and also billed with scarcely a chance of defeating its opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, today. Jacksonville won its season opener and has lost 10 straight since. The 27-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts feels like an anomaly in a season that has been nothing but losses.
Of course, Jacksonville lingers at the bottom or in the bottom-third, of nearly every team metric. No 21 in passing yards and No. 24 in rushing, its third-to-worst offense is no surprise. Adding to that, its defense is also a bottom-three unit. Being one of the worst on both ends of the football is how nearly every game comes up an “L.”
Many are sympathetic to the cause that sees Gardner Minshew heading this offense. But he has been more mediocre this season, and the breakout signs he showed last season have mostly stayed there, in last season. Minshew is completing 65.9 percent of his looks with a decent passer rating of 94.4, but he has five interceptions and only 13 touchdowns, and he has been sacked over three times per game for 126 lost yards this season. James Robinson has been a bright spot in the backfield with his 4.6 yards-per-carry and six rushing touchdowns, and even Minshew has shown more promise rushing the ball, with 122 yards on just 25 carries. But the overall situation is Jacksonville lacking playmakers on both ends of the football. Robinson can’t be faulted, and Minshew has his moments, but overall this is a team so lukewarm in talent that it is becoming easier to see how it is nearly a two-TD underdog against the Vikings this week.