Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers Week 8 NFL Betting
Cam Newton has been the key to Carolina covering five of seven games.
Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton has exceeded all expectations so far. He’ll face off against one of his first-round compatriots when Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings come to town.
The Vikings are mostly 3-point ‘dogs at Don Best, although some sportsbooks still have them at 3 ½. The NFL betting total is between 47 ½ and 48 points, with kickoff from Bank of America Stadium at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX.
The Panthers (2-5 straight up) have been one of the NFL’s best teams against the spread (5-2), but it only paid off with one win before last week, 33-20 at home over Washington as 1 ½-point favorites. Carolina racked up 175 yards on the ground with the dual-threat Newton rushing for 59 and throwing 256 more.
The 53 combined points scored went ‘over’ the 44 ½-point total. The ‘over’ is 3-1 for Carolina at home and 5-2 on the season.
The Panthers are now 4-0 ATS at home (2-2 SU). The other home win was over Jacksonville (16-10) and the losses to arguably the NFC’s two best teams, Green Bay (30-23) and New Orleans (30-27).
First-year coach Ron Rivera has done a tremendous job. The offense is fifth in total yards (416.6 YPG) after ranking 32nd last year (258.4 YPG). Newton is a big reason with an accurate deep ball and the NFL’s leading receiver in Steve Smith (818 yards), who has 17 receptions of 20 yards or more.
Despite that dynamic duo, this week’s game plan should be a balanced attack. Newton’s 23 passes against Washington were a season low after averaging 38.2 in the first six. He completed over 78 percent of his throws, but had no interceptions. He’s pick-free in Carolina’s two wins, but has nine in the five losses.
Minnesota has some issues at cornerback with starter Chris Cook suspended and Antoine Winfield (neck) missing the last three games and questionable Sunday.
Carolina also has a very effective running duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, who combine to average almost five yards per carry. More running equals greater time of possession and Minnesota’s fourth-ranked run defense has been less stingy away (99.7 YPG) compared to at home (77 YPG).
The Vikings (1-6 SU, 3-3-1 ATS) are coming off a 33-27 home loss to Green Bay, but it was a good day for the franchise overall with the starting debut of Ponder and a cover of the 10-point spread.
Ponder didn’t have a great day statistically (13-of-32 for 219 yards, two TDs and two picks), but he was comfortable in the huddle and even the youngest of Vikings fans knew the team was going nowhere with the washed-up Donovan McNabb.
Ponder’s receiving options could be thin this week with Percy Harvin (ribs) questionable and Bernard Berrian given his walking papers. Michael Jenkins came through with 111 receiving yards last week, but he’s far from consistent. The unheralded Devin Aromashodu could be the other starting wideout.
There are also offensive line issues with guard Anthony Herrera (knee) likely out. Center John Sullivan (concussion) is questionable.
The good news is that running back Adrian Peterson looked rejuvenated last week with 175 yards on 24 carries. The Panthers will load up at the line of scrimmage and dare the rookie signal caller to beat them in his first road start.
Carolina has had trouble stopping the run (133.4 YPG, ranked 29th) with linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis out for the year. Peterson should be close to 100 yards on Sunday.
Minnesota is 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS away this season. The last one was an embarrassing 39-10 loss at Chicago in an October 16 Sunday night game. Expect a much better effort here with the team energized by the quarterback switch.
The ‘under’ is 2-1 in Minnesota’s road games (scoring 14.7 PPG) and is 6-1 in its last seven road tilts overall.
Carolina ranks tied for 20th in the Don Best Linemakers Poll (89.8 rating), while Minnesota is close behind at 24th (88.1).
This is the first meeting between the teams since December 2009. Carolina won 26-7 and the home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four. The ‘under’ is 3-0 in the last three and 5-1 in the last six.
Weather should be fine, mostly sunny and in the 50s.