Minnesota Vikings (2-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-1)
The Vikings are 2-0, but actually have allowed their opponents to move the chains at a higher rate than they have in both games. Their 2-0 record is largely the result of a +5 turnover margin and a +2 return touchdown margin, two things that tend to be very tough to rely on every week. They’re just 29th in rate of moving the chains differential, despite their record. Sam Bradford seems to have picked up the offense quickly, but he’s a limited passer, without much in the way of weapons aside from Stefon Diggs, and with a below average offensive line in front of him, especially with Matt Kalil going on injured reserve. Running back Adrian Peterson is also going on injured reserve and, even though he wasn’t running well and even though Jerick McKinnon is a very talented backup, Peterson obviously will be missed. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Xavier Rhodes is expected to return and make his season debut, but defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd remains out.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are still one of the best teams in the NFL and could easily be 2-0 if not for a Graham Gano missed field goal week 1 in Denver. They’re also in a much better spot, with an easy game on deck (Atlanta), while the Vikings are coming off of a huge home upset victory over the Packers. Teams are 81-58 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 4+ (which the Panthers likely will be next week), while teams are just 49-75 ATS off of a win as home underdogs since 2012. There’s not enough for me to take the Panthers with an sort of confidence this week though, as this line is all the way up to 7, after being at 5.5 last week on the early line, but they’re the pick in pick ‘em pools.
Carolina Panthers 24 Minnesota Vikings 16
Pick against the spread: Carolina -7