The Minnesota Vikings travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers. Both teams really need a win here to turn things around. The Vikings won their last game but are 2-3 on the season which is not where they want to be. As for the Panthers, their strong start to the season has come to a screeching halt. Let's break this game down to see where the value is at the top betting sites.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, October 17, 2021 - 01:00 PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium
Vikings Could Be Getting Help
When Dalvin Cook is healthy, the Vikings are a much better team which is an obvious statement. They might be getting him back this week which is good news. At the same time, his return will not solve their problems. His return will not help the inconsistency we see on both ends of the ball. What I mean by that is, Alexander Mattison is putting up similar production to what Cook was offering before he got hurt. Please do not confuse what I'm saying by thinking I'm comparing the two as players, I'm not.
What I am doing is highlighting something that we've known about the NFL for going on a decade now; running backs are not as important as they used to be. What matters way more is the quality of your offensive line and that is part of the problem in Minnesota. Their offensive line has been below par and that is holding this team back. For all the criticism that Kirk Cousins regularly gets, he has been closer to elite than average this year despite that line.
The Vikings came into this game as -1.5 point underdogs and that line has swung all the way to the other side with them now sitting as 1 point favorites according to the SBR odds page. For me, it's Vikings or nothing in this game for the simple fact that I don't know who the Panthers are.
Line Might Still Have Value for Vikings Backers
To be honest, I don't ever like getting the worst part of any line which seems like an obvious thing to say. While it might be, there are certain instances where the line movement doesn't really affect how you cap a game. In this specific spot, I was taking the Vikings as moneyline underdogs. The best line available was +105 and now I'm paying -110 at -1. I'm fine with this price because I don't think this game is going to be as close as the oddsmakers have it.
I think at their best, Minnesota is the better team with a better quarterback. I'm by no means a Sam Darnold hater but in this specific matchup, Cousins is playing on a different level. He has been a true difference maker whereas Darnold has been up and down. He is learning a new system and getting used to his teammates so I do think he can get better. The problem for him in the present is he is trying to do all of that behind the worst offensive line in the league.
That line is going up against a Vikings pass rush that is legitimately top 10 in the league. Danielle Hunter should have a field day here and Darnold has not been good under pressure this season. If you're thinking that's something you can say about all quarterbacks in the league, you would be wrong about that. Darnold has been under pressure on 77 of his 202 passes, and has thrown 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. Cousins has been under pressure 67 of his 204 passes and has 1 touchdown and no interceptions.
On the season, Cousins has 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions compared to 6 and 6 for Darnold. One QB is a veteran who has seen it all while the other is still a young guy trying to figure things out after starting his career one the most mismanaged franchise in the league. For my NFL pick, I'm taking the Vikings -1 in this situation because I feel like Darnold's offensive line lets him down again this week.
NFL Pick: Vikings -1 (-110)