Oddsmakers are losing faith in Carolina rather quickly heading into the week 6 Vikings at Panthers matchup. Matt Rhule’s squad has dropped two in a row, and now Minnesota (2-3) comes to Charlotte as -2.5 road favorites. Carolina (3-2) lost 21-18 at home last week to Philadelphia as -2.5 favorites.
Minnesota could get RB Dalvin Cook back after he missed last week’s 19-17 win over the Lions (MIN -10) but how healthy will he really be? The Vikings are also on the road for the first time in nearly a month and have lost both of their away games this season. Mike Zimmer has amped up his defense lately, making Sunday’s O/U of 45.5 lean towards the under.
Oddsmakers See Something in Minnesota
The Vikings look for their first road win of the season on Sunday and try to get .500 s they head into a week 7 bye. 0-2 on the road looks bad, but those losses were a 27-24 OT loss to a good Cincinnati and a 34-33 defeat at 5-0 Arizona as a 37-yard Greg Joseph FG missed as time expired.
The Vikings defense has shown a lot of improvement over the last three weeks in giving up just 16 ppg. A couple of those were impressive including a 30-17 win over Russell Wilson and the Seahawks and even in a loss holding Cleveland to one TD in falling 14-7. Last week Minnesota was able to endure Detroit 19-17 as the Lions had just one TD. Once again all three of those solid defensive outings were at U.S. Bank Stadium however.
Suddenly the concerns for Zimmer coming into the week 6 Vikings at Panthers matchup is his offense. Minnesota has scored two total TDs the last two weeks even while playing at home. Kirk Cousins started the year with 8 TD and 0 INT but has 2/2 the last couple games. Dalvin Cook is battling an ankle injury and has missed two of the last three even though Alexander Mattison went for 100+ in both of the games Cook has sat out.
Carolina Offense Misfiring
Minnesota’s offense isn’t the only one struggling a bit coming into this week 6 matchup as the Panthers managed just 267 yards last week at home against the Panthers. Cook is injured, but so is Christian McCaffrey. Cousins started off strong but has struggled the last two weeks, and so has Carolina QB Sam Darnold who has tossed 5 INTs the last couple games. These offenses mirror each other in a lot of ways.
Darnold’s struggles are probably the main reason why Minnesota is a road favorite in this week’s meeting. It was 36-14 Dallas before Darnold padded his stats late with 2 TD and a 300+ yard game in a 36-28 loss to the Cowboys and last week the Carolina QB hit on just 21/37 passes for 177 yards and 3 INTs.
Minnesota’s defense is 2nd in the league with 3.4 sacks/game so they can put the pressure on Darnold to once again force turnovers. There’s not a lot the Carolina defense can do in those situations, as evidenced last week when they only gave up 273 total yards and still lost. The Panthers actually have the #2 total defense in the league, but they’ve also played the Jets, the inconsistent Saints, and the Texans as well this season.
Week 6 Vikings at Panthers Pick
This seems like it would be a perfect home ‘dog play on Carolina but at the same time how much do you trust Darnold against this Vikings defense? Instead it looks like the route to take in this one is on the total, with two solid defenses and a couple of banged up offenses. The number (45.5) has dropped a couple from its open, but still looks doable.
Vikings 20 – Panthers 17
Free Pick: Under 45.5