NFL Picks Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings, Odds and Preview ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings rushes for yards against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedEx Field on December 24, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. The Minnesota Vikings won, 33-26. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The teams with the two best Week 1 records over the past decade or so meet in Minnesota Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town.

When you think of best NFL bets, you don't automatically think of the Jaguars, but they are 11-2 against the spread (ATS) in their past 13 season openers, according to

And the host Vikings, despite their recent troubles, have also been a profitable Week 1 play. They are 8-2 ATS over the past decade of season openers.

Regardless of these past trends, the current odds on this game sat at -3.5 for the Vikes late Saturday. It had opened at -4.5, but action on Jacksonville bet the number down, said Jack Randall, a football analyst at

These are teams in the middle of rebuilding processes that didn’t get many wins last year. And they will look to start off the 2012 season on the right foot.

"Betting was split almost perfectly down the middle according to our NFL consensus data which aggregates bets from several online sportsbooks," said Randall. "The UNDER was trending higher with about two thirds of totals bettors playing UNDER 39."

In 2009, the Minnesota Vikings were atop the NFC North with a 12-4 record. But since then, they’ve posted a 6-10 record in 2010 and a 3-13 record (6-8-2 ATS) in 2011.

With the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears all expected to be in competition for playoff spots this year, the Vikings appear to be the odd team out in the NFC North, so winning games like this week’s will be key in the rebuilding progress.

Unable to get over the hump in the AFC South for years, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a disappointing season in 2011, even by their standards, finishing 5-11 straight up (7-9 ATS). With Peyton Manning gone, the Indianapolis Colts are no longer a lock for 12 wins and a division title every year. But the Houston Texans look ready to take that spot at the top.

Still, the door is open for the Jaguars to finally make a push, but it would take a pretty magical season for it to be this year.

There are a lot of parallels between these two teams. Both are breaking young quarterbacks into the starting role in Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert and Minnesota’s Christian Ponder. Both have elite running backs that won’t be at 100 percent Sunday with Maurice Jones-Drew having missed training camp in a holdout and Adrian Peterson coming off of a major injury last season.

Neither has had much recent success in this week’s situation as Jacksonville is 1-9 straight up (SU) in its last 10 road games and Minnesota is 0-5 SU in its last five home games.

This is not a game we would bet heavily, but we take the hook with the Jaguars in what should be a close game either way.


PICK: Jacksonville +3.5 (courtesy of )