Minnesota Vikings (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 710
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN +7/CAR -7
Over/Under Total: 43
The Minnesota Vikings will try and keep their wave of momentum rolling into week three of the young NFL season, when the Vikings travel to Bank of America Stadium for a date with the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers in early Sunday action on Fox.
With back-to-back wins to open the season, including last week’s emotional, 17-14, victory over NFC North rival Green Bay in the first-ever game in their new stadium, this week the Vikings will try to keep riding the wave of good vibes when they take on MVP Cam Newton and the Panthers. Sam Bradford outplayed Aaron Rodgers in his first start for the Vikings, but his second start isn’t any easier as he’ll have to matchup with Newton and the top-ranked Panthers defense if he hopes to keep the Viking undefeated in 2016.
Newton and the Panthers flashed the form that made them NFC Champs in week two’s, 46-27, throttling of San Francisco, with the MVP throwing for over 350 yards and four scores. But what could become an issue was once again a 4th-quarter fade by the heralded Panthers defense, as Carolina led 31-10 at start of 4th quarter and gave up 17 points in the quarter to make it a one-score game until later in the 4th than it should have been.
Carolina’s 46 points against the 49ers was enough for most of the betting public to jump back on the Panthers bandwagon, so accordingly the oddsmakers set the opening point spread for this game with Carolina as 7-point favorites. The number seems to be a good mid-point for bettors in this game too, as both sides are getting action and the point spread is still holding firm at Panthers minus -7 points at most sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at 43 and it has also held firm through the early portion of the week, moving up the hook to 43.5 at just a few sportsbooks here and there and on the Internet.
Of course one of the biggest questions waiting for an answer in this game will be the health of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson torn the meniscus in his knee last week and is not expected to play for a few weeks , so the Vikings are expected to use a combo of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon behind Bradford.
Carolina will also be missing their starting running back, as James Stewart pulled his hamstring and is also expected to be missing Sunday when the Panthers host the Vikings. Guard Trai Turner is listed as questionable, so the Panthers may have to shift bodies in front of Newton for the game which is never a good thing.
Historically, the series between these two teams has been pretty even over the years, both straight up (5-5 SU since 2000) and at the betting window (5-5 ATS). Minnesota won the last matchup in blowout style, 31-13, back in 2014. However, the Panthers flipped the script the year prior in 2013, beating the Vikings on the road by a similar, 35-10, score.
All in all, the home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven head-to-head meetings. Minnesota is a covering machine on the road of late (10-1 ATS last 11 road games), but the Panthers also have done well for bettors at home going 20-7-1 ATS inside Bank of America Stadium.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: A game with two of the league’s top defenses playing against two offenses missing starting running backs and a little dinged up on the o-line just screams under in this spot. But I’m going the other way with a wager on the over of 43. I’d lean toward the Vikings covering the spread, especially if you can get the hook and get +7.5 without buying the half point. The Vikings defense should be able to keep them close. But even with two strong defenses, I’m still going to take the over of 43 in this game.
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