NFL Week 8 Game Picks: Vikings at Panthers

The Minnesota Vikings head to Carolina to face the Panthers in a battle of two rookie QBs. Cam Newton has already proven doubters wrong with his play this season and Christian Ponder gets his second start of his career, first one on the road, for the Vikings. Last week Newton lit up the Redskins for 315 yards of total offense 2TDs/O INTS and two passes of 35 plus yards that torched the Redskins secondary. Newton did beat fellow rookie Blaine Gabbert earlier in the season 16-10 and will look to up his mark to 2-0 vs his 2011 drafted counterparts.

Christian Ponder, on the other hand, breathed new life into an otherwise glum Minnesota Vikings team. Ponder wasn’t spectacular by any means, but his hunger and his enthusiasm woke this team up. His accuracy will remain a concern going into this week, but he can spin it. The ball comes out quickly and he has more mobility and a better deep ball than McNabb does at this point in his career.

The line has opened at -3.5 in favor of the Panthers at home and has barely moved down to -3. The over/under has dropped from 47 down to 46.5. Not a ton of movement in this game, but the 1/2 line going down with the public loving the bets on Carolina at 60% makes me wonder if Vegas thinks Minny can win this game outright.

Trends

The Vikings are 4-1 ATS(against the spread) in their last  5 after allowing 30 points in their previous game. They stand at 1-4 vs teams with a losing record and 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games as road underdogs.

The Panthers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 overall and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs the NFC. A key note regarding these trends for Carolina is that they have been underdogs of a TD or more three times and won. Those games were against Chicago, Green Bay and the Saints. There two wins came vs the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins.

Mostly played before Newton’s improvements on the offense, the score has gone 8-1 ATS on the under side of the total in their last 9 as favorites, but have only been under this week’s total of 46.5 points in one game this season and that was the Jaguars game.

Vikings Offense vs Panthers Defense

The obvious point of attack for the Vikes this week will be in the run game. Adrian Peterson ran for an eye-popping 175 yards and a TD against the GB Packers and will be asked to come close to those numbers again this week against a weak Carolina run defense that gives up 133 yds/gm. They have allowed Matt Forte to gain 205 yards on them, Michael Turner went for 139 and 2TDS,  Maurice Jones-Drew had 122 in the rain with the box stacked against him and James Starks went for 85 yds on just 9 carries averaging 9.4 yds per carry . Numbers like that folks are very troublesome. AP should have a huge game this week. I’ve heard a  lot about RG, Anthony Herrera’s injury. Let’s not fret here, he is being replaced by a crafty, 7 year veteran in Joe Berger. Will Carolina be able to load-up with 8 guys in the box against Peterson? Yes, especially with a slowed Percy Harvin, but it isn’t like Michael Jenkins and Vinsanthe Shiancoe are pushovers. In fact, Jenkins leads the team in receiving and had that huge catch the open the game last week vs Green Bay. Don’t expect the Vikings to go play-action that early this week. The Panthers rush defense gives up 4.7 yards per carry and with that in mind you would think Minnesota would run it on first and second downs setting up several 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2 scenarios. That should be the time to roll Ponder out, run him on sneaks or let Peterson finish the first-down off himself. They will need to extend more drives to keep Cam Newton off the field as much as possible. If they have success with this formula early, the defense will be tired come time for the second half and it will buy time for Ponder in the pocket, allowing the tight-end to get open over the middle. To make things worse for the Panthers D  are the injuries to 2 of their linebackers. If Peterson gets through the line as he so often does, Carolina will have to depend on reserves up the middle to stop the big runs.

Panthers Offense vs Vikings Defense

Yes, Cam Newton is amazing and has been lighting even the best of defenses up all season. With 2103 yds passing on 252 attempts and  266 yards rushing on 57 attempts, Cam has been directly responsible for 70.8% of Camolina’s offensive plays calls, 79% of their yardage gained and has scored or thrown for all but 3 of their touchdowns on the season. Read that again because it is unbelievable that one player could be in control of that much of a team’s attack in the NFL. Not since the two-way play of Washington Redskins, Sammy Baugh have we seen a player be this important to his team in my opinion. For those of you who don’t know about Sammy Baugh, he just happened to lead the league in Passing, Punting and Interceptions in 1943. He also had a 4TD passing game and 4 INTs as a cornerback in a 42-20 victory. Now, pick up your jaws and read on because Newton is still a rookie and does have some flaws. Decision-making is one of these critical flaws. He  is 2nd in the league with 9 INTs and has shown a propensity for being pressured when the rush gets thru the A-gap or through the middle of the line. The battle of DE, Jared Allen vs OLT Jared Gross of Carolina will be huge. Allen is on pace to tie the single season record for sacks and has done most of this damage on the right side of the line. Yes the blind side of Newton, where the leagues best Offensive Tackles reside. This hasn’t slowed Allen at all and this will be huge for the Vikings. Will running lanes open for Newton due to some over pursuing? I’d have to say so, but the Vikings will gladly take that trade-off as it should limit the deep throws to Steve Smith. Smith has absolutely owned the Vikings in his career with 30 REC, 525 YDS and 3 TDs in just 5 games. The Vikings are a hurting bunch in their secondary and will have coverage problems all day, so if Allen can cause the pocket to collapse and force Newton to run towards the line and not outside the line, this will help their defensive weaknesses. If Newton gets time and is allowed to dictate the pace of this game, the Vikings will be playing catch-up all day and this generally renders your running game useless.

Game Predictions

From a stats point of view expect Peterson to run for 160 yards and 2 TDS easily. The only way this doesn’t happen is if the Vikings are trailing big. Ponder will not be asked to do too much. If he doesn’t lose the game and can extend some drives he can lead this team to a much-needed road win. I say he puts up 210 yards with a TD pass to Jenkins.

Newton should get about 275 YDs with 1 TD passing & 1 TD rushing, but I foresee problems with the Jared Allen mismatch on his blind side. This will cause him to throw a couple of picks. Smith does his usual damage and gets 7 REC 110 YDS but is held out of the end-zone. Shockey will be the recipient of the TD. Allen gets 4 sacks in this game for Minny.

Pick: Minnesota gets a big win on the road 27-23. The score goes over the total of 46.5

Advertisements
Comments
One Response to “NFL Week 8 Game Picks: Vikings at Panthers”
  1. brief22 says:

    Nice post! I think the Vikings are on the upside now with Ponder starting. Although this is true, I think Carolina will win. I think the Vikes defense will have trouble stopping Cam the Man

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: