Winston will throw for 300 yards… and two interceptions
The NFL’s ultimate YOLO quarterback, Jameis Winston is also one of the most unpredictable signal callers of all time. When he’s on his game, he can rack up yards in bunches. When he’s off, he’s creating as much offense for his team as he is for the other team. It’s impossible to know which one is going to show up, but this could be a game where we see both sides.
Winston comes into Sunday’s matchup with 858 yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions through three games. The loss of Payton definitely hasn’t helped, but neither has three broken vertebrae in his back that have him playing through pain.
Adding to Winston’s issues is a game that plays into the teeth of the Vikings’ defense. Ed Donatell’s defense has lived in zone coverage through the first three games in order to prevent big plays downfield, and Winston’s average depth of target (12.0) ranks second among quarterbacks with at least 20 percent of the league lead in snaps.
That doesn’t mean that throwing the ball downfield has been a bad idea. The Vikings’ defense has experienced some friendly fire in the first couple of weeks with several broken coverages that have led to big plays. The return of Harrison Smith should ease some of the miscommunication issues that plagued the Vikings against Detroit, but Winston will throw deep enough that he could connect on one or two big plays downfield.
Winston is going to put up a big yardage total in this game, but it will be up to the Vikings to capitalize on his mistakes to earn a victory.