Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) at Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
This line is right about where it should be at 2.5 in favor of the Vikings. The Panthers are a little bit better than the Vikings on the season, moving the chains at a 71.84% rate, as opposed to 76.04% for their opponents, a differential of -4.21% that ranks 25th. For comparison, the Vikings are two spots down at 27, moving the chains at a 68.65% rate, as opposed to 73.81% for their opponents, a differential of -5.16%. However, as long as this line is under 3 in favor of Minnesota, we’re not getting any real line value with the Panthers, especially since Star Lotulelei will likely remain out with an ankle injury for Carolina.
However, I do like the Panthers for a low confidence pick this week. I think this game will mean more to them as they look to end a 5 game losing streak. Adding in the tie in Cincinnati, the Panthers haven’t won since week 5 and have one win since week 2. They’re the more desperate and embarrassed team and can take advantage of a Minnesota team that could be flat after playing the Packers so close and losing last week. Teams are 74-54 ATS since 2002 on a 5+ game losing streak. On top of that, teams are 24-9 ATS since 1989 on a 5+ game losing streak off of a bye. They’ve had 2 weeks to regroup and I expect them to get back into the win column this week, though I’m not that confident as long as the line is under 3.
Carolina Panthers 20 Minnesota Vikings 17 Upset Pick +120
Pick against the spread: Carolina +2.5