Following another solid victory on Thursday Night Football with the Falcons -2.5, we’re back at it again for a full slate of Sunday action. It’s been a great run the past few weeks for myself at The Sports Geek, and I’m now up to about 58% against the spread on all picks since the commencement of the regular season.
Week 14’s slate has some special games in store for us, and we’ll focus on one of them in this column as the Vikings head south to do battle with the Carolina Panthers. Minnesota looks unstoppable at the moment, sitting at 10-2 with their sights firmly focused on clinching a number one seed. In their way on Sunday will be the electric Cam Newton and the 8-4 Panthers. Carolina is entering this fixture off of a tough loss and you can bet they’ll be seeking retribution in front of their home crowd.
It is always thrilling when two top teams square off this late in the year, and even more so when you envision this matchup as a potential NFC Championship battle. It should be intriguing on Sunday, so read on below for full game analysis and an official betting prediction for Vikings/Panthers.
Vikings vs. Panthers Betting Odds:
Minnesota Vikings -3 (-105)
@ Carolina Panthers +3 (-115)
Over 40 (-105)
Under 40 (-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Vikings vs. Panthers Pick:
Case Keenum has been good, bordering on great – but he isn’t this good, and I’d expect the Carolina Panthers to give the QB a real wake-up call on Sunday afternoon. Last week against Atlanta, he only mustered 14 points of offense and the Falcons were down two of their top cornerbacks. He won’t be afforded that level of forgiveness against the Panthers this week.
Keenum will face a stern test, as this Panthers’ stop unit is unlike any of the soft defenses he’s bullied in weeks’ past. Kawann Short will dominate the line of scrimmage and wreak havoc on the Vikes’ backfield, and Luke Kuechly will effectively stifle the run game and get after Keenum as well. I think all of this forces Minnesota into a one-dimensional situation on many occasions, and I’m not sure Keenum will be good enough to consistently beat Carolina downfield in some cold weather temperatures.
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers offense going against the Vikes’ stop unit will be a treat to watch. Carolina possesses a bunch of exciting and talented playmakers, while Minnesota’s defense is just suffocating. That said, they do have a weakness specifically at the linebacker position. They don’t cover all that well and Carolina has a bunch of intriguing pass-catching options emerging from the backfield – mainly Christian McCaffrey.
And don’t sleep on Newton himself in this contest. He’s back and fully healthy and can definitely move the chains using his legs. In a game like this, there are times he will surely need to take off and do it himself, and he remains the best in football at this. He’ll make the Vikings’ defense work hard to take him down.
The Vikings are great, but this is yet another tough, road contest for them. This is a crucial game for the Panthers – especially after the Falcons win on TNF, and I think Carolina is in prime position to take advantage of a Minnesota squad that could be tired playing their third straight game away from home. And with them getting a full field goal at home at some sportsbooks, it’s hard not to side with Newton and the Panthers on Sunday.
PICK = Panthers +3 (-115)