Vikings vs. Panthers NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: What Number To Bet Minnesota To Cover This Week 6 Spread
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images. Pictured: Dalvin Cook.
- The Panthers host the Vikings as home underdogs in NFL Week 6. Is Carolina undervalued?
- Our NFL betting analyst doesn't think so. Based on Vikings vs. Panthers odds, he actually saw value on Minnesota.
- That value has been zapped from the spread as of writing, but he details which price the Vikings are worth a pick at below.
Vikings vs. Panthers NFL Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Improved defensive play has been the story of the season for the Vikings and Panthers — Carolina is second in Football Outsiders’ overall defensive DVOA while Minnesota ranks eighth after neither unit was ranked in the top-half of the league by PFF heading into 2021.
Things have been different offensively, though. The Vikings were certainly expecting more from Kirk Cousins and the passing attack, but his adjusted yards per attempt is his lowest since 2018.
On the other hand, Sam Darnold has been a revelation for the Panthers, posting career highs across essentially every rate statistic, including rushing touchdowns — he has five, which is how many he had in his career with the Jets.
To say that Darnold has been far better than Cousins is, of course, misleading. Darnold’s yards per attempt are only 0.2 yards better, although the rushing ability helps.
Both teams would prefer to lean on their star running backs if at all possible. That helps Minnesota this week, with Dalvin Cook expected to play and Christian McCaffrey on IR. Both backs are among the few in the league who can actually move the spread, so their statuses are no doubt highly important to betting markets.
Vikings Offense Faces Difficult Test
The Vikings can’t be pleased with their 2-3 start to the season, especially considering the last-second 54-yard field goal needed to defeat the winless Lions last week.
As mentioned above, Minnesota’s defense has been a bright spot so far this season, particularly as of late. The Vikings have allowed only 48 total points over the past three weeks, despite matchups with the Browns and Seahawks before the Lions. The Vikings’ first two games of the season were much worse, allowing a combined 61 points.
Most of the Vikings’ problems can be found on the offensive side of the ball. Only putting up 19 points against the 25th-ranked Lions defense is a terrible sign, especially going into a matchup with a Panthers defense that’s ranked second in total DVOA.
The Vikings’ best-case scenario in Charlotte is establishing a lead early and grinding out a win. If Minnesota is forced to play catch-up, it could be in trouble against a Carolina defense that’s allowing the fewest passing yards in the league.
So far this season, the Panthers have won every game that McCaffrey has played in and lost both without him. With the possible exception of Derrick Henry, no running back in the league is more important to his team’s success than CMC.
Of course, the schedule with McCaffrey was a lot easier than the one without him. The three teams Carolina beat have combined for five wins this season, and the two teams it has lost to have six. So while McCaffrey is undoubtedly important, he isn’t the only reason for this current losing skid.
With McCaffrey unable to go, I expect the Panthers offense to struggle a bit against the Vikings, who are far better defensively against the pass (sixth) than the run (20th). That’s not an ideal matchup for a team that has done most of its damage through the air in McCaffrey’s absence.
The Panthers defensive front has a strength-against-strength matchup with the Vikings offensive line. That Carolina unit has the NFL’s best adjusted sack rate — a measure that takes down and distance into account — and Minnesota’s offensive line has the third-best rate.
This will be a key matchup to watch because an immobile Cousins needs a clean pocket to operate effectively.
NFL Picks: Vikings vs. Panthers
Normally, a 3-2 home team would be expected to be favored against a 2-3 opponent. Of course, the injury situation is baked in.
Most books had the Vikings listed as -2.5 favorites late in the week, but BetMGM was offering them at -1.5 (-105) as late as Friday. I don’t love the bet — the Vikings could very well struggle to move the ball throughout this game. However, when we’re getting a strong signal from the market as a whole, it’s generally worth picking on the outlier.
If you have access to the number still, I would bet the Vikings spread down to -1.5 (-110). Any further than that, though, and I don’t see any value left.
Pick: Vikings to -1.5 (-110) if available
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