NFL Week 8 Predictions: 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:  47.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Eagles Vikings NFL Preview
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is a key player in Sunday's contest against the Carolina Panthers

Minnesota has dropped consecutive games since picking up its first victory of the year, including a 33-27 defeat against the Green Bay Packers as 10-point home underdogs last time out.  The Vikings have been dealing with numerous personnel issues, led by the release of wide receiver Bernard Berrian and cornerback Chris Cook being charged with felony domestic assault.  The locker room was just getting use to having rookie quarterback Christian Ponder take over the position from veteran Donovan McNabb.  Minnesota is 5-11 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus seasons and the ‘over’ holds a slight 9-8 edge in that situation.

The Vikings still possess one of the top rushing offenses in the league, as running back Adrian Peterson ran for 175 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.  Minnesota will have a chance to get things going on the ground, facing a Carolina team that allows 133.4 rushing yards per game.  The last time these two played at Bank of America Stadium, the Vikings were handed a 26-7 loss as nine-point road favorites on Dec. 20, 2009.

Carolina moved its record to 2-5 on the season with a 33-20 win over the Washington Redskins as 1.5-point home favorites, covering at home for the fourth-straight time this season.  The Panthers came out of the break and scored three times, pleasing first-year head coach Ron Rivera with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s play-calling.  “He felt that we could run the ball a little bit,” stated Rivera after the game.  “Once he got the rhythm of that, he was able to get going.”  Carolina is 2-0 ATS as a home favorite of a field goal or less, while the ‘under’ is 5-1 in that situation the last two-plus seasons.

The Panthers have to be incredibly pleased in selecting quarterback Cam Newton with the first selection in this year’s draft, watching him complete 18-of-23 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown.  He has single-handedly resurrected the career of star wide receiver Steve Smith, who has gone for over 140 yards in four games this season.  Carolina’s running game has been building momentum over the past couple weeks, gaining 175 yards on 37 carries against the Redskins.  On the other side of the ball, bettors shouldn’t put too much weight in the squad holding Washington to under 100 yards rushing, as the opposition lost its starting running back and had to throw the ball for much of the game being down on the scoreboard.

Bettors will likely back the Panthers due to their 8-1-1 ATS mark as a favorite of under a field goal, while the Vikings are 4-16-2 ATS as a road underdog of less than three points.

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