Minnesota Vikings (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
NFL Football Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday December 10th, 2017. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -3/CAR +3
Over/Under Total: 41
Last week the Minnesota Vikings pulled out a hard fought 14-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons to earn their 8th straight victory and tie the Philadelphia Eagles for the best record in the NFC. The victory also nearly guaranteed the Vikings will be crowned division champs of the NFC North and now they will be able to fight for home field advantage throughout the playoffs over the next few weeks. This Sunday the Vikings journey to keep their hot streak alive faces another tough challenge when they go on the road to meet the 8-4 Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Panthers fell to the New Orleans Saints last week for the 2nd time this season in a 31-21 loss that snapped a 4 game win streak. The bad news for the Panthers is that the loss put the Saints in total control of the NFC South. The good news is that the Panthers still appear to be in the driver seat for a wildcard playoff berth avoiding any collapse over the next few weeks. Considering the Panthers will face the Packers without Aaron Rodgers and the hapless Buccaneers over the next two weeks, the schedule definitely plays into their favor. However, they still may need a victory over the Vikings this week or the Falcons in week 17 as the race in the NFC is getting closer with each passing week.
Therefore, we should not expect any letdown scenarios for either team entering this Sundays pairing at Bank of America Stadium. Ultimately this game will come down to the offense that can make a few plays to setup scoring opportunities. Both the Vikings and Panthers defenses are among the best groups in the NFL. Statistically the Vikings own the 2nd best defense in the NFL giving up just 289 total yards per game. The Panthers are close behind in 6th giving up just 8 more yards per game. Both groups also own strong scoring statistics relinquishing just 17 and 19.8 points per game from the Vikings and Panthers defensive units.
I understand the statistical edge may be given to Minnesota on paper in terms of defense but both groups are equally potent. I actually may give the Panthers the edge on defense from game tape, matchups, etc. However on the offensive side of the ball, I believe the Vikings have the bigger and more noticeable advantage in terms of manufacturing points. It may not have looked pretty in last weeks low scoring win over Atlanta but quarterback Case Keenum is playing great. Keenum has completed over 70% of his passes in 4 straight games, averaged over 250 yards, and thrown 9 touchdowns compared to just 2 picks during that stretch. WR Adam Thielen ranks 4th in the NFL with 1,056 receiving yards and who can deny Latavius Murrays elevated game in recent weeks? This Vikings offense is just physical, balanced, and finds ways to create scoring opportunities which is why they continue to grind out victories.
Meanwhile my confidence is just not nearly as high for the Panthers offense. When Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is on, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league especially when he mixes in his running ability and extends the play. The problem is that Newton is wildly inconsistent and vastly over rated as a true passer. Just two weeks ago in the win over the Jets, Newton completed just 11 of 28 passing (39%) but was bailed out by the defense and special team touchdowns. He played better last week completing 17 of 27 passing for 183 yards with 2 touchdowns but this time the defense played poorly as they allowed 400 total yards from the Saints. Obviously Newton is not the guy to blame for the Panthers inconsistencies. I believe his play is being stressed because of the lack of productivity from the Panthers rushing attack and therefore plays into the troubles for the Panthers offense especially against physical football teams.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:This may seem like the popular pick, but I just feel like the Vikings are the better team. Carolinas defense and Cam will always give the Panthers the potential to win games. However, the Vikings are playing much better and more consistent. Take Minnesota -3. Guys, while I have your attention. Where are you betting this game? Wanna bet it for FREE? Simply deposit $100 to $1000 at MyBookie! and use promo codePRDCT14 and they will match your deposit with FREE PLAY loot!