Carolina Panthers (3-7-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date and Time: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +2.5/MIN -2.5
Over/Under Total: 43
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On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers make the trip north to face the Minnesota Vikings. Just because neither team is doing very well doesnt mean that it wont be a good game or offer a nice wagering opportunity. Truth be told, its an interesting game between teams that will be looking to close out 2014 with a flourish.
Carolina is suffering massively at 3-7-1, especially for a team that was 12-4 last season and had won 13 out of 14 games, before going into the tank. Following a great winning run like that, the Panthers have won only a single game in their last 9 attempts. Heading into this week, they have lost 5 in a row. They are coming off a bye, which followed a loss at home to the Atlanta Falcons.
Normally, when a team wins only once in a 9-game stretch, the playoffs are not a topic that would be mentioned. But the NFC South this season is a very unique situation, with every team struggling. Atlanta and New Orleans are atop the division at 4-7, so at 3-7-1, the Panthers arent far off at all. Its just some extra motivation for a team to get their act together and most teams with a record like that simply dont have such a strong list of motives. Remarkably, Carolina can still make a legit postseason run. But they really need to start winning games.
For the 4-7 Vikings, its almost certainly a wrap as far as the postseason in concerned. But they are still a conscientious team that produces a good effort, as they try to build toward the future. The last few weeks have been a disappointment, as they looked to have some momentum going into the bye week at 4-5 and coming off two straight wins. But losses to Chicago and Green Bay in their division have cooled off the Vikes a bit.
Minnesota didnt play that badly on Sunday, losing to the red-hot Packers 24-21. Its been a tough year for Minnesota, working with a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback, a slew of injuries, and the yearlong suspension of their best player–Adrian Peterson. But coach Zimmer appears to be getting through to these guys. Bridgewater is taking some rookie knocks, but could come around eventually. RB Jerick McKinnon has been productive, though being banged-up has slowed his ascent. With 6 touchdowns, Matt Asiata is able to gain those tough yards. And the receiving crew of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jarius Wright can do damage. But lets call it what it is–a pretty humdrum offense. Ranked 30th in total yards, this is a team that relies on its defense to keep them in games. And it doesnt help that they lost their right tackle Phil Loadholt for the season last week or that Patterson (knee and ankle) and Asiata (concussion) are
questionable for this game.
With Zimmer a defensively-oriented guy, expect the Vikes D to morph into a very good unit in coming years. Were already seeing initial signs of it, with the Vikings pass-defense rounding into shape fairly well. In terms of total yardage, the defense ranks a respectable 12th. Theyre just not quite good enough yet to make up for what can be a very lackluster offense at times.
Obviously, the Panthers have their own issues–on both sides of the ball. Its like whatever magic pixie dust that was floating around this team last year just up and vanished. Their defense is 28th in points allowed and toward the bottom in most pertinent categories. Sure, theyve lost some key guys to offseason moves, injuries, and suspension, but for a defense that was one of the best last year to deteriorate to this level has been startling. And offensively, its not much rosier of a scenario. Theyre averaging less than 20 points per game. They cant run the ball worth a lick. And Cam Newtons form is about as bad as its ever been. Not to attatch all the blame to him. Other than rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin and TE Greg Olsen, this is an offensive cast that is devoid of legitimate playmakers. They went from a consummate overachieving team last season to a team that seems to extract very little out of all their total pieces this
In the last 5 weeks, the Panthers scored over 20 points or more just once. In that stretch, they were outscored 143-74. Sure, they lost along the way to some awfully good teams, like Baltimore, Green Bay, Seattle, and Philly. But in losing division games to New Orleans and Atlanta, they show they can stink it up against sub-.500 teams, as well.
Carolina has actually been pretty tough this year in an against-the-spread sense, going 6-5 ATS, which is strange for a team that was 12-4 last season and cant buy a win this season. Teams that bottom out like the Panthers have usually arent very productive at the betting windows. I see another tough week for the Panthers in a difficult road spot against a more-together Vikings team that plays a lot better at home. Ill take Minnesota.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus 2.5 points.