[1:00 PM] Vikings @ Jaguars

Who will WIN this matchup?

Minnesota Vikings (6-6)

@ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)


The Vikings have lost their last four games by a combined 17 points and are coming off another narrow defeat, a 17-15 setback to NFC-leading Dallas on Dec 1. With three extra days of rest and coach Mike Zimmer returning after missing one game following emergency surgery for a torn retina, Minnesota cannot afford another misstep against the free-falling Jaguars.

Jacksonville was a trendy preseason pick to compete for the AFC South title, but it has dropped seven consecutive games since a 17-16 win at Chicago — a division rival of the Vikings.

It’s no surprise that Minnesota’s offense has buckled with the early-season injury to star running back Adrian Peterson, failing to score more than 16 points in five of its six defeats. Quarterback Sam Bradford is proving to be a solid game manager with 13 touchdown passes against only three interceptions, but he has failed to reach 250 yards passing in five of the past seven games. Even though starting safety Harrison Smith suffered a severe ankle injury against the Cowboys that could end his season, the Vikings will be relying on a defense that permits 17.4 points per game to stifle the Jaguars. Minnesota is among the league leaders in sacks (31) and interceptions (12).

Jacksonville’s offense remains stuck in the mud and a big reason is the struggles of Blake Bortles, who leads the NFL in both interceptions (15) and turnovers (19). Bortles needs to find a way to connect with wideout Allen Robinson, who is averaging 51.8 yards per game following last season’s 1,400-yard campaign. An already struggling ground game is dealing with injuries to Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Denard Robinson (ankle), leaving a banged-up T.J. Yeldon to carry the load against the Vikings. The Jaguars rank second defensively against the pass with an average of 195.8 yards per game, but they have a league-low three interceptions and have forced only five fumbles.

Bortles has had three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the last four games.


StreakSmarts Pick: Minnesota Vikings

Confidence: 5/10

StreakSmarter Pick