NFL Picks Against the Spread Week 8: Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 10/30/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Carolina -4
Current Betting Line:  Carolina -3
Opening Total:  47
Current Total:  47
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton has met every expectation thus far in the NFL

Minnesota heads to Carolina to take on the Carolina Panthers and it will be a battle featuring rookie quarterbacks.  The Vikings will be looking to snap a trend of the home team winning four consecutive games in the series.  The team was handed a 26-7 loss the last time it played inside Bank of American Stadium as nine-point road favorites on Dec. 20, 2009.  Quarterback Christian Ponder will be making his second start, facing a defense that ranks 12th in the NFL against the pass.  “We’re hoping that he’ll continue to gain confidence, get more comfortable with some things we’re doing,” commented Vikings coach Leslie Frazier about his signal-caller.  Minnesota is 19-20 ATS over the last two-plus years, while the ‘under’ holds a slight 21-20 edge.

The Vikings will likely lean heavily on running back Adrian Peterson, who is just 325 yards away from being the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.  He currently leads the NFL in rushing with 712 yards and eight touchdowns on 146 carries, going up against a fragile defense that surrenders 133.4 yards per game, but surprisingly enough gives up just 3.6 per carry.

Carolina comes off its second win of the season and has covered both opportunities as home favorites this year.  The Panthers out-gained the Redskins by 54 yards, posting a 33-20 win.  Offensively, the team has responded to rookie quarterback Cam Newton, scoring 18 offensive touchdowns.  That number is actually two more than the team scored the entire 2010 campaign.  “We knew we had a franchise quarterback,” commented Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.  “We knew we had to find that guy, whether he was on the roster or not.”  Carolina is 5-2 ATS on the year and the ‘over’ is also 5-2 in those contests.

The Panthers were known for a solid running game before Newton’s arrival, but got off to a slow start in averaging just 84 yards rushing the first three weeks.  That has certainly changed now, gaining 161 yards per contest over the last seven.  Carolina will face a major challenge of blocking the Minnesota defensive line, especially Jared Allen, who comes in as the NFL’s leader with 11.5 sacks.  Wide receiver Steve Smith is someone to watch on Sunday, coming in with the most receiving yards in the league, averaging 21 yards a catch, which could be a force when facing a Vikings secondary that is depleted due to injury and suspension.

Bettors will likely back the Vikings due to their 33-24 ATS mark following two or more consecutive losses, while the Panthers are just 10-10 ATS the last two-plus seasons.

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