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Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers Point Spread - Pick

Minnesota Vikings (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Week 14 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: MIN -3/CAR +3
Over/Under Total: 41

The Minnesota Vikings face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday in a big NFC matchup on week 14. Minnesota won its eighth game in a row on Sunday with a big 14-9 road win over Atlanta. In their third straight road game, they face the Panthers, who saw their 4-game win streak snapped on Sunday in a 31-21 loss at the Superdome to the Saints. Which team can emerge from this Sunday matchup intact?

The Vikings have now won eight straight and two in a row on the road after beating the Lions and Falcons in consecutive weeks. A week two loss to the Steelers was their only road loss of the season. Against the Falcons, the game was a defensive battle, with the Vikings having to dig deep on both sides of the ball to get the win. A lot of people thought that against a streaking and peaking Falcons team on the road, we could be due to see a downbeat Vikings' bunch, but waiting for this team to lose has been a costly proposition.

For the Vikings' offense, Sunday was hardly a banner-day, but they were efficient and manufactured two touchdown drives, which were enough to get the job done. Case Keenum continues to impress as the starting quarterback. On Sunday, he was 25-for-30 with 227 yards and two touchdowns. He has really risen to the occasion in this role. He connected with Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon with scoring receptions. Latavius Murray continues to shine as the featured back. With WR Adam Thielen over 1000 yards, WR Stefon Diggs, and others working their way into the offense, there are tools to work with on this side on the ball. And they needn't be great, with their defense one of the best in the league.

The Vikings' defense is giving up an average of 17 points a game. They are deadly against the opposing rush, while getting better and better against the pass. On Sunday, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan was held to 173 yards on the day. The Falcons could only convert one third down for the whole game and to do that to a home Atlanta offense is pretty impressive. This season has seen the line thrive with Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen at the ends and Linval Joseph stopping the run inside. Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr have been great at linebacker. After some rough early-season play, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Smith, and others have been pretty good in the back.

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Carolina has now been swept this season by the Saints and really need to start putting the wins together. It might be hard to topple the Saints for the division title, so they need to strengthen their position. Some mistakes on offense and big plays allowed by the defense were costly against the Saints on Sunday. Beating a team that is tied for the best record in football would go a long way toward getting the Panthers back on the right track mentally. The streaky Panthers now look to put together a compelling postseason claim.

The Carolina offense was not able to shine in key moments on Sunday, undermined by a bad special plays fumble late in the game. QB Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for 51 yards. He connected with Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess with scoring strikes, but against the Saints, the Panthers weren't able to put their best foot forward. They only converted three third downs on the day and when this offense isn't clutch, it can sometimes struggle. It would have been fair to expect more than 279 yards of total offense on Sunday in a game that so important.

The Panthers defense didn't shine on Sunday, but they are a well-balanced unit that is giving up less than 20 points a game this season. Their point totals against have gone up each of the last five weeks. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are still a big one-two punch in the middle. They get a huge pass-rush from Mario Addison and Julius Peppers. They haven't gotten many turnovers and it's not often an 8-4 team has a minus-six in turnover ratio, as the Panthers do. The Panthers offense looks like they might struggle this week. It's really incumbent that this side of the ball find the right answers this week.

Maybe it's because of all the adversity they have conquered this season, but the Vikings aren't a typical frontrunner. Waiting for them to come down to earth could be a losing game to play. They're not the kind of team that is prone to phoning it in. I just see the stars lining up for a tough game for the Vikes, this being their third straight road game on the heels of a tough stretch. I see the Panthers hanging in there and giving the Vikings all they can handle this week. I see the Panthers as being a good-value pick getting points at home.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers plus 3 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Minnesota vs. Carolina game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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