Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings
Date and Time: Saturday, August 18, 2018, 1 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Opening NFL Odds: Vikings -4.5, 40
Jaguars vs. Vikings TV Coverage: NFL Network
Everything looked great through three quarters of play in the Jags preseason opener at home against New Orleans. Doug Marrone had the Saints on the ropes, but his backups and likely expendable couldn’t land the finishing blow. Instead, his defense allowed a pair of fourth quarter touchdown strikes that ultimately saw them come out on the short end of a 24-20 decision.
The outright and pointspread defeat moved him to 5-9 SU and 3-7-3 ATS as a head coach in the preseason. Even with a number of defensive regulars out of the game, the defense held up admirably against the Saints potent attack. Blake Bortles even looked the part completing 6 of 9 passes for 53 yards to go along with a 2 yard touchdown jaunt. Backup Cody Kessler saw a bulk of the work, and will likely once again with this game absolutely meaningless.
The Vikings wasted no time in letting Denver know who was boss last week in the thin air of Mile High. Led by shiny new quarterback Kirk Cousins, Minnesota’s offense went right down the field on its opening drive to get out to a quick 7-0 lead. Once Cousins took to the bench after completing all four of his passes for 42 yards and a score, it was the Trevor Siemian show.
The former Bronco let his ex-teammates know just how pissed he was about being cast away instead of Paxton Lynch by torching Denver’s defense for 165 yards and a couple touchdowns. Still, he threw a pick and that was John Elway’s major issue with the former Northwestern Wildcat over the course of his stay with the franchise. In all, Minny’s QB rotation shined as Kyle Sloter also threw for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Player to Watch
Latavius Murray – With Dalvin Cook likely to be held out of the entire preseason in hopes of having him 100 percent ready for the start of the regular season, the stage is set for the sixth year pro to shine. If he continues to do so in the exhibition season after leading the Vikings rushing attack after coming over from Oakland last season, it would be hard to argue with him being the bell cow back. That is until Cook proves his ready to the coaching staff. Jacksonville conceded 135 yards at nearly 4.0 yards per carry last week, and it’s likely starters on the defensive side of the ball don’t see action once again. Should he be able to build off the 41 yards gained on four carries last week, Murray should cement himself as the RB1 until further notice.
Jaguars vs. Vikings Free Picks
Just about every game on the Week 2 preseason betting odds board has a listed total of 41 or more points. That’s not the case with the Jags and Vikings even though each of their games combined for high scorers last week. Even so, the betting public is flocking to the over with better than 66 percent of the ticket allotment expecting to see a high scorer play out.
I’m fading that action, and instead will look for both defenses to rise to the occasion. I’m not enamored with Jacksonville’s QB rotation in the least, and I’ll pay to see Siemian torch another defense like he did last week in a grudge match with the Broncos.
Both Marrone and Zimmer have been solid under wagers in the preseason with it a combined 18-13-1 under their watch. Let the betting public continue to inflate the total and then pounce on the under once kickoff for this nationally televised matinee nears.
NFL ATS Pick: Under 40 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Vikings 17 – Jaguars 12