• The Carolina Panthers may have started 3-0, but have since fallen off losing their last two games to sit at 3-2.
  • The Vikings have had a tough season, coming up short against the Bengals and Cardinals, and have a record of 2-3.
  • Both teams have been missing their star running backs in their last two games, and both are questionable to return this week.

Despite starting off at 3-0, the Panthers now sit tied for second in the NFC South with a record of 3-2. The Panthers are coming off of a disappointing home loss against the Eagles in which they led by as much as 15-3.

The Vikings are currently 2-3 and looking to get back in the NFC North playoff race, as they sit behind both the Packers and the Bears. They are coming off of a thrilling win at home against the Lions thanks to a 54-yard field goal kick.

This matchup is important for both teams, as both are looking to climb back into the playoff race, and this game could very easily serve as a tiebreaker for a wildcard spot.

Vikings vs Panthers Matchup at a Glance

  • Sport: NFL
  • Teams: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
  • Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
  • Date: October 17th, 2021
  • Betting Odds:
    • Spread Vikings +1 (-110) Panthers -1 (-110)
    • Moneyline Panthers (-120) Vikings (+100)
    • Total 46.5 (O/U -110/-110)

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Vikings Preview: Victorious Vikings

The Vikings are just unlucky this season. They had a game-winning overtime drive that was ended by an untimely fumble. Minnesota had a chance to win against the Cardinals with a chipshot field goal and missed it.

So when the Lions forced a fumble and scored a touchdown, and converted the 2-point try to take the lead 17-16 with 37 seconds, it just felt like a seasonal theme had emerged: bad luck.

However, when some teams might have just folded, the Vikings kept going, driving 46 yards to kick a 54-yard game-winning field goal.

I genuinely think that Minnesota is better than their record would indicate. Defensively, they rank second in sacks and rank 10th in pass completions, and 13th in passing yards.

They do struggle against the run; they rank 22nd in rushing yards and 16th in rushing touchdowns. But they compensate for it by being 4th on 3rd down percentage and 11th on 4th down percentage.

Minnesota also boasts a great offense led by Kirk Cousins, who ranks 1st in interceptions with two, and the Vikings as a whole rank 1st in Turnovers with only three. The Vikings’ passing offense as a whole rank 10th in passing yards and 6th in completions.

Their run game (which has been missing Dalvin Cook for two games) has been a little lacking in production, ranking 1th in rushing yards, but if Cook should return and play like last season, the Vikings offense should become a top-10 rushing attack.

Panthers Preview: Puzzling Panthers

Across the field, you have the Carolina Panthers, who were one of the most surprising hot teams. They got off to a quick 3-0 start beating the Jets, Saints, and Texans before being blown out by Dallas and then blowing a lead to the Eagles.

Sam Darnold has taken a significant step backward in his last two games. In his first three matchups, he only threw one interception, and in his previous two performances, he threw five interceptions.

The Panthers’ offensive line has followed a similar trend, in their first three games, they averaged two sacks against, and in their last two, they allowed four per game.
From a passing offense perspective, the Panthers are above average; they are 13th in yards and 12th in completions.

Their rushing game has struggled without CMC; they currently are ranked 18th in rushing yards despite being top-10 in rushing attempts. Much like with the Vikings and Cook, I expect that the Panthers will improve with the return of CMC.
Defensively, the Panthers are still a great team despite their two ugly losses. The Panthers have generated the third-most sacks in the league and rank 10th in interceptions.

They also have allowed the fewest passing yards and completions and rank eighth in rushing yards. Their biggest flaw is their red zone defense which ranks 29th in the NFL.

Odds & Free Betting Analysis for This NFL Game

I like the Vikings to win this matchup.

I think the main reason the Vikings are underdogs in this one is that they are the road team and the road team with a worse record. If this game were neutral, or records were thrown out of it, the Vikings would likely be the favorite.

The main reason I want to pick the Vikings is that I think the Minnesota defense can give Sam Darnold and company fits offensively. They rank second in sacks with 17 meaning they can apply pressure and hit the QB. The Panthers have a bad offensive line and are going to allow the Vikings to hit Darnold. Darnold with pressure leads to interceptions and I think a multi-interception game is on the horizon.

The Panthers’ defense is good enough to keep the Panthers’ offense in the game, as they did against the Eagles. I anticipate that the Panthers can limit the Vikings to under 20, but I just do not see the Panthers’ offense being able to even make it to 20.

Vikings vs Panthers Pick

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Tom Zwiller is currently attending Holy Cross College where he is majoring in business analytics and minoring in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Theology. During high school, Tom played as a DT on his varsity football team and as a forward for his varsity high school hockey team. Tom loves all things sports, specifically the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL, as well as a good game of table tennis. Go Panthers!