Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Date and Time: Sunday, December 10, 2017, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Opening NFL Odds: Vikings -1, O/U 42
Vikings vs. Panthers TV Coverage: FOX
When you've got the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL, you're going to have a chance every single time you get on the field. All Case Keenum has to do is not screw things up, and he's done a masterful job of that this year.
We could make the case for Keenum being a Pro Bowler. He's 297 yards shy of 3,000 for the year and has 16 touchdowns against just five interceptions. His quarterback rating of 98.6 is outstanding for a man who is making $2 million this year and was never expected to touch the field, and he's made the whole state of Minnesota forget that Dalvin Cook hasn't played in a game since the beginning of October.
Carolina's four-game winning streak went by the boards against the Saints last week. That's back-to-back losses against New Orleans this year, and it's left the Panthers in a position where they almost certainly won't win the NFC South.
Getting in the playoffs as a Wild Card should be the goal now. With games left against Minnesota, Green Bay and Tampa Bay at home and Carolina on the road, there's a good chance to get to at least 10 wins. Getting to 11 would surely be good enough, though that might require winning this game.
Matchup to Watch
The speedier the linebackers a defense has, the worst shape Cam Newton is in.
The Vikings certainly have firepower to shut Newton down thanks to Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, but this is the first time this year they've seen a quarterback with this much raw ability. The closest thing has been DeShone Kizer, and even he had a reasonable day against the Minnesota defense.
Newton has done more running this year than he did last season, and though that isn't good for his long-term prospects in this league, it's certainly good for Carolina right now. After trading Kelvin Benjamin, the outside weapons deteriorated, leaving Newton having to do more on his own.
Pretty much the only way we see this game ending in the win column is if Newton takes off for at least 50 or so rushing yards. Anything less than that, and there's going to be a boatload of pressure on Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey to make things happen.
Vikings vs. Panthers Free Picks
There's just no reason to stop riding the hot hand at the moment. Keenum has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in each of his last four games, and he's gone over 100 straight throws without an interception.
The matchup for Carolina isn't a bad one, especially if Newton can exploit that defense a little bit.
We love the over in this game, especially with Minnesota's offense scoring at least 23 points in six straight games before the 14-point snoozer against Atlanta. That said, the Vikings are the far better play since they can win this game in the 30s just as easily as they can win it in the 60s. Carolina feels like it has to push this game into at last the 50s to have any shot of ultimately pulling off the mild upset.
A Minnesota win formally locks up the NFC North. We think that prize is too big to take your eyes off of when wagering on this game.
NFL ATS Pick: Vikings -1 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Vikings 34, Panthers 28