Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick – Week 3 NFL Picks

Carolina Panthers (2-0) +3.5, 37.5 O/U at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
-3.5, 37.5 O/U, Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minn., 1 PM Eastern, Sunday

by Badger of

Now the Minnesota Vikings turn to veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte to
try and resurrect their season, and his first task comes Sunday in
the Metrodome when the Vikings try to topple an undefeated Carolina
Panthers team that will welcome back their All-Pro receiver Steve Smith.

Frerotte wont just get the start this week either, as head coach Brad Childress announced that it would be for the remainder of the
season, so its official that the Tarvaris Jackson experiment in
Minneapolis is over.

Jackson struggled again in last weeks last-second loss to
Indianapolis (only 14-of-24, 130 yds.) and Childress finally realized
that a change was necessary to keep defenses from stacking the box on
Adrian Peterson. Peterson is still getting his yards (263 rushing
yards, 5.45 yards/carry), but even he becomes ineffective in the red
zone if the defense is not afraid of the play-action pass. Five Ryan
Longwell field goals a game just arent enough points to stop good
teams from beating you, prompting the change to Frerotte.

Carolina is counting their blessings to be 2-0 so far, with back-to-
back come-from-behind wins to show for it, including last weeks
20-17 victory over Chicago. Now they get the most explosive playmaker
back in Smith, which has everyone in Panther-land thinking big things
in Charlotte.

Oddsmakers opened the line with the Vikings as 3-point favorites at
home, but as news started to filter out about the Viking QB change
the number moved up to 3.5- or 4-point chalks at most sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at 37 and has moved up slightly to 37.5,
while the Vikings are listed as -200 favorites on the early moneyline
bet with the Panthers as +170 underdogs.

Frerotte wont have to do much to improve the Vikings 24th-ranked passing offense, as they averaged only 143.5 yards per game under
Jackson. But he may have a hard time doing it right away since both
of his starting receivers on the outside, Bernard Berrian and Sidney
Rice, are listed as questionable for the game.

Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme has lead the Panthers to consecutive comeback victories with his steady veteran play, not
flashy stats or totals. In fact, one could argue that the Panthers
offense has been merely mediocre (19th overall, 12th in rushing, 11th
in scoring), which is why there is so much buzz about the return of

The two-headed running attack of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo
Williams should benefit from Smith double-teams on the outside too,
but the running game will have a hard time penetrating the Vikings
7th-ranked rush defense (only 82 yards allowed per game) this week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers defense will need to tighten up more than
they have so far as season (allowing 110 ypg 19th) if they expect
to limit Peterson from racking up first downs. But the Vikings will
need everything they can get from Peterson, since Frerotte will face
a strong secondary ranked 13th versus the pass after two weeks (176.0
ypg ave.).

Minnesota won a close, 16-13, game at home as 2-point favorites last
time these two teams met in September of 2007. The win snapped what
was a Panthers three-game winning streak over the Vikings (both SU
and ATS).

The Panthers are a hot team to bet one right now too. They are 4-0-1
ATS in their last five overall, 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games on the
road and are a surprising 5-1 ATS in their last six games on turf.

The Vikings meanwhile have been a frustrating bet, going 0-5 ATS in
their last five game overall, 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games
and 0-4 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss.

The under is also a hot betting trend in this head-to-head matchup, as it has cashed in at the window in five of the last six games in
Minnesota and is 5-2 in the last seven games versus these two teams

Badgers Pick: With Frerotte at the controls now these two teams
almost mimic each other on offense establish the power running
game, eat clock, use veteran QB to try and take advantage with play-
action passing. Delhomme will need to throw more with Minnesotas
defensive line, and Frerotte will hit some throws that Jackson
couldnt, so I see this game scoring more points than usual and thus
going over late. Take the over of 37.5.