Vikings vs. Jaguars Odds & Picks: Take the Under In This Run-Heavy Matchup
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Minnesota Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook.
Vikings vs. Jaguars Odds
The 5-6 Vikings take on a reeling 1-10 Jaguars team in what will be a crucial game for the Vikings’ playoff hopes this season.
Both teams have had success rushing the ball of late, with Dalvin Cook and James Robinson both ranking in the top three in rushing yards among all NFL runnings backs.
With a total of 51.5, Vegas expects this to be a high-scoring affair. But with two of the league’s best rushing attacks facing off, will the projected game flow allow for enough points?
Starting cornerback Sidney Jones IV has been ruled out, missing his third consecutive contest with an Achilles injury. Cornerback C.J. Henderson also remains out for the Jaguars. But some good news for the offense: Wide receiver D.J. Chark will return after missing one game with a rib injury — he’ll provide a spark for the pass attack as a big-play threat for quarterback Mike Glennon.
Glennon will make his second consecutive start for the Jaguars. In his start last week against the Browns, he completed 57% of his passes and was able to keep the game close in an eventual 27-25 loss. He finished with a solid 237 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first start since 2017.
In that same game, the Jaguars relied heavily on the run — as they have for much of the season — with Robinson logging 22 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown. Robinson has emerged as a budding star over the first 11 games, with his 890 rushing yards ranking as the third-highest mark in the NFL thus far.
With Glennon at the helm again, expect a similar focus on the run in this one. That sets up well for Robinson, who will be taking on a Vikings defense that ranks 25th in the league with a 55.7 Pro Football Focus rush defense rating.
Given the mismatch here, the Jaguars should be able to find success early and often with the run and control the clock when they have the ball.
The Vikings have ruled out both tight end Irv Smith Jr. (back) and defensive end D.J. Wonnum (back/ankle), though wide receiver Adam Thielen will return from the reserve/COVID-19 list after missing just one game with a false positive test last week.
Cook (ankle) was limited during the week, but was not on the final injury report and should resume normal duties for the Vikings.
Kirk Cousins has been on a tear lately, averaging 304 yards and 2.7 passing touchdowns per game over his last three outings. He has a mouth-watering matchup against a Jaguars defense with the 29th-ranked PFF coverage rating (40.3) and the 30th-ranked PFF pass rush rating (59.3). His top two weapons in the passing game — Thielen and wide receiver Justin Jefferson — each also have incredible individual matchups.
Per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart, Thielen possesses a 71% advantage over cornerback Luq Barcoo in the matchup he’s likely to see the most of, while Jefferson holds a 51% advantage over cornerback Tre Herndon.
While the Vikings should find success through the air, their offense is built around the run: They run the ball on 48.5% of their offensive plays (fifth-most in the NFL) and have the most dynamic back in the league in Cook. He’s exploded against nearly every opponent he’s faced this season and should have no problem carving up the Jaguars’ 13th-ranked PFF rush defense (61.1).
With the Vikings positioned as 10.5-point favorites, there’s a strong chance we could see even more of Cook and backup Alexander Mattison than usual, particularly in the second half if the Vikings find themselves with a lead.
With a total of 51.5, this game is tied for the second-highest total of Week 13.
While the Vikings passing attack matches up well against a poor Jaguars secondary, this is a game in which both teams will be looking to run the ball at above-average rates. To that end, each figure to also have success against an opposing defense that has had trouble stopping the run this season.
A run-heavy game script from both sides should lead to a running clock more often than not. If that’s the case, the under is firmly in play with a total in this range.
Even if the Vikings get ahead — which books expect as illustrated by the 10.5-point spread — the Jaguars rank first in time of possession when trailing this season (per Football Outsiders), which should help suppress total points scored.
Big money agrees: According to our public betting data, 46% of tickets but 64% of the money is on the under as of late Saturday. A steam move — sharp money coming in heavily on one side — also came on Thursday that sent the line down from 52.5 to 51.5 points.
Given the projected game flow and strong matchups for each side in the running game, I’m betting the under. Anything below 51, however, and I’d be hesitant to jump on.
PICK: Under 51.5