It can be tricky deciding where to place your NFL picks when two of the lowest performing teams from last season meet for their season opener. Will it be the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Minnesota Vikings who are able to earn their first victory of the year?
Adding to my growing list of free
NFL picks for Week 1, I am sharing a 10* graded play on the Jacksonville
Jaguars as they travel to Minneapolis to take on the. Both teams had
disappointing seasons last year, with the Jaguars posting a 5-11 record and the
Vikings an even worse 3-13 record. Both teams will be better this season, but
Jacksonville may be the team that will show the most improvement out of all the
losing record teams from last season.
Keep in mind that for 16 straight
seasons there have been five of the twelve playoff teams that do not qualify
for postseason play the following season. This clearly reflects the parity that
dominates the NFL each season and underscores how important injuries become as
the season wears on.
When the Week 1 NFL odds were first released, Jacksonville had found themselves listed as 4.5 point road dogs against the Vikings. An early flow of cash has seen that line shrink to its current offering of 3.5.
While the spread has fallen, the betting total has seen a slight increase, as it now rest at 39.5 on most football odds boards.
Will we see new life from Jacksonville?
Who is to say that despite the
distractions that occurred during the preseason to the Jaguars, that they can’t
be one of the new contenders? Realistically, that may be a long shot, but I am
confident stating that they have now have the coaching staff and personnel in
place to have an even 8-8 record in 2012.
A road win here would be huge for
the chemistry and confidence of the Jaguars. Jacksonville will be much improved
from last year’s dead last (32nd) ranking, averaging just 136.2 yards per game.
Maurice Jones-Drew is an elite running back, and he was the focus of the
offense that ranked 12th in the league, gaining an average of 123.1 rushing
yards per game. Jaguars signal caller, Blaine Gabbert will lead this team at only
22 years of age, but he has all of the athletic tools, at 6-4 and 235 pounds,
and football intelligence to make a big impact in the league.
He had his ‘seasoning’ last year
and proved that he could extend the play and avoid the majority of pass rushes.
Yet, as many rookies do, he held onto the ball too long and took too many
unnecessary sacks, especially on third downs and less than 10 yards. Last
year’s game experience will be far more beneficial for him than having held a
clipboard and been an understudy for a veteran quarterback.
Looking at last season, his
performance decreased as the game wore on simply because his team would fall
behind on the scoreboard. His quarterback rating by pass attempts was as
follows: Attempts 1-10 a rating of 75.7 and averaging 6.43 yards per attempt
completing 58% of the passes thrown. Attempts 11-20 produced a 70.2 quarterback
rating and averaging just 5.12 yards per attempt on 54% pass completions.
Attempts 21-30 produced a horrid 50.2 quarterback rating averaging just 5.00
yards per pass attempt on 41.4% completions. On pass attempts 31-40 his
quarterback rating fell into the abyss at 43.6 averaging just 3.15 yards per
pass attempt on 36.6% completions.
A more balanced attack and better
offensive line will allow him to evolve into a more reliable and consistent
leader on the field. I am confident you will see him attack the middle of the
field against the Vikings highly suspect cover-2 scheme. The Vikings ranked
26th in pass defense allowing 251.2 passing yards per game in 2011 and will be
vulnerable in this matchup where they must respect the power running game of
Supporting System and
My NFL betting simulator shows a
high probability that Jacksonville will lose this game by three or fewer points
and I fully expect them to win the game. The Jaguars have a strong and vastly
underrated defensive unit. The simulator shows a high probability that the
Vikings will not score more than 21 points in this game. In past games, the
Vikings are just 1-7 losing 7.0 units per one unit wagered when they have
scored between 15 and 21 points in a game over the past three seasons.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Jacksonville Jaguars.