Vikings’ playoff hopes could rest with their pass-rush

The Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback search of 2014 took them across the country, to meet with players in restaurants and hotel rooms, on practice fields and in front of whiteboards, as they joined a handful of other teams in what amounts to the NFL’s annual search for happily-ever-after by way of speed dating.

The Vikings took Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles out to dinner in Orlando following his pro day in March 2014, but by the end of the spring, their months-long search had put two names above Bortles’ and everyone else’s on their draft board: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, followed closely by Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, had become enamored enough with Bortles to spend the third overall pick on him and stake their future on the quarterback.

Two-and-a-half years later, as Bortles faces the Vikings for the first time in his career, it’s a logical moment for one of our periodic checks on the Class of 2014 — which, depending on how you look at it, can be characterized as anything from eclectic to enigmatic. Bortles, who has started every game for the Jaguars since Week 4 of 2014, threw 35 touchdown passes last season but leads the league in interceptions for the second straight season.

That’ll be a big storyline Thursday night when the 9-3 Chiefs face Carr and the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium with first place in the AFC West at stake: Will Carr’s futility against Kansas City continue?

“Every game is different, but you’re definitely more confident as you get more success.”

Carr is 1-4 against the Chiefs since becoming Oakland’s starting quarterback in 2014. The victory came in his first try and was his finest moment against Kansas City. On a Thursday night in Oakland, Carr led the Raiders on a 17-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter and threw the winning touchdown pass with 1 minute, 42 seconds remaining in a 24-20 victory.

That’s been the extent of his success, however, and three of Kansas City’s four wins have come by at least 14 points.

“I just didn’t complete as many passes as I [wanted] to,’’ Carr said when asked about his performances against the Chiefs. “Just have to take care of the ball against them.

“It’s just how the games have went.”

But he indicated the Chiefs aren’t in his head.

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