NFL Picks Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings
Running back Adrian Peterson's arrest early Saturday morning (per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus) isn't the type of news that Minnesota Vikings fans want to read, especially with the team two months away from opening the 2012 NFL regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars inside Mall of America Field at the H.H.H. Metrodome.
The Vikings are still listed as 4.5-point home favorites in the current Week 1 NFL betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), while the total is holding steady at 38.
Minnesota is coming off a forgettable 3-13 season, but they still managed to produce a 6-8-2 against-the-spread (ATS) record. The Vikings have covered three of the last four in this series, including a 30-12 victory as one-point road underdogs on Nov. 23, 2008, in the last meeting.
Peterson was the leading rusher in that contest, gaining 80 yards on 17 carries and scoring a 21-yard touchdown. He's made it a personal goal to get ready for the season opener and face the Jaguars for just the second time in his career.
Sports bettors may be reluctant in laying the points due to the Vikings being 4-6 as home favorites since the start of the 2010 season.
Jacksonville hopes that quarterback Blaine Gabbert is ready to take a step forward in his sophomore campaign, as the team wasted a tremendous statistical season from running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
The former UCLA Bruins star ran for a league-high 1,606 yards, which was 238 yards better than Baltimore Ravens runner Ray Rice—who finished second in that category.
Head coach Mike Mularkey has a major rebuilding job on his hands, but it's important to note that the franchise is 7-0 ATS as underdogs of six or less points when playing with revenge.
Jones-Drew didn't get a chance to run very much in his last matchup against Peterson, as the team fell behind by 14 points in the opening two minutes. He did play a major role in the passing game, finishing with nine catches and 113 receiving yards.
I'm going to recommend an early play on the Vikings, but I could change my mind if Gabbert demonstrates a better handle of the offense during the preseason. He could have a big day dropping back against a Minnesota secondary that ranked 26th against the pass in 2011.
Early Pick: Minnesota Vikings -4.5
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