Keenum has to maintain his form

Vikings To Maintain NFC Playoff Surge With Panthers Win

The race for the NFL post-season continues as the Carolina Panthers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Vikings took control of the number one seed in the NFC Conference last week.

Should Mike Zimmer’s men retain their positon at the top – it would give them the unique opportunity to host all three of their post-season matches, including the Super Bowl which happens to be in Minnesota this season.

As a result, there is plenty of incentive for the Vikings to maintain their strong run of form. The club have won their last eight matches on the bounce and are looking formidable on both sides of the ball. The defense held the Atlanta Falcons’ offense to nine points last week in a narrow victory, highlighting their quality.

Case Keenum’s offense has been productive, and although they were held in check last week it would not be a surprise to see them return to form. Keenum has played above expectations this term and with the returning Teddy Bridgewater applying pressure on the sideline – he has raised his game.

The Panthers are involved in a bitter battle in the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons’ win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday has opened the door for Ron Rivera’s men. Carolina were beaten by the Saints last week – their second loss of the season to their rivals. However, they can pull level at the top of the division on nine wins, with only three matches remaining in the term.

The club have been up-and-down in their play this season, but with a great deal on the line – expect them to rise to the occasion on Sunday.

We’ll now break down the contest using the latest betting odds.

Carolina Panthers

Bradberry and Worley need to thrive

Credit: USA Today Sports

The Panthers were exposed in their defeat to the Saints on the road last week. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram took the game away from Rivera’s men with a fine all-round performance. Carolina attempted to make a late comeback, but New Orleans remained solid late in the game. The loss was a bitter blow for the Panthers in the NFC South.

The club are one game behind the Saints in the division, but due to their two defeats to Payton’s side they don’t hold the tie-breaker. As a result, to win the NFC South and finish ahead of the Saints they’ll need a superior record. New Orleans’ defeat to the Falcons on Thursday will allow them to draw level, but it will take a strong performance to overhaul the Vikings – even on home soil.

Carolina’s defense has been the foundation of their playoff surge. However, they struggled to contain Kamara and Ingram last week, allowing the Saints to put 31 points on the board. Even the great Luke Kuechly struggled tackling the backs, and although life will be easier for the linebackers this week – their secondary could be exposed.

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been outstanding for the Vikings this term. James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman will have to be at their best to limit their production. Keenum has shown a propensity to connect with his talented wideouts along with tight Kyle Rudolph. To win the contest they have to stop the Vikings quarterback, with pressure also on Julius Peppers and Mario Addison to provide a potent pass-rush.

Newton will have a tough time putting points on the board due to the strength of the Vikings’ defense, which could lead to a low-scoring affair at Bank of America Stadium.

Minnesota Vikings

Keenum has to maintain his form

Credit: AP Photo

The Vikings are one of the hottest teams in the NFL at the moment and are charging into the playoffs. Their victory over the reigning NFC Champion Falcons last week, suggested that the balance of power in the Conference had shifted towards Minnesota. Their triumph was their 10th win of the season, and more importantly for Mike Zimmer’s men – it took them to the number one seed. The club are in a battle with the Philadelphia Eagles for pole position in the NFC.

However, the Vikings know now that should they win out – they can host all three of their playoff matches at US Bank Stadium, including the Super Bowl. No team has ever played in their home stadium in pursuit of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Therefore it’s a huge incentive for the NFC North outfit. They’re playing football on both sides of the ball. The defense locked down the Falcons last week, with Xavier Rhodes limiting the production of the great Julio Jones. The pass-rush led by Everson Griffen was able to attack Matt Ryan in the pocket.

Zimmer’s side will face a different challenge against the Panthers and Newton. They will have to shut down the running game and limit the quarterback’s big-play ability. However, they are more than well-equipped to stop run with a powerful defensive line and a strong secondary.

Keenum has played above expectations on offense this season and he continued his excellent season with a fine outing last week. He threw for two touchdowns against the Falcons, taking his tally to 16 on the campaign to just five interceptions. With Thielen and Diggs in the passing game, the 29-year-old has two quality targets downfield to pick apart the Panthers’ secondary to keep his side surging towards the number one seed.

Betting Options

The Vikings appear to be on the charge for the Super Bowl and are playing extremely well on both sides of the ball. The Panthers have talent, but not enough to stop a freight train like Minnesota at the moment. Zimmer’s men are reminiscent of the Carolina 2015 season that surged through all opponents to reach the Super Bowl – only to be defeated by the Denver Broncos.

As a result, expect the Vikings to close out their 11th win of the season so back them at -141   at BetOnline. The two sides are closely matched and it could be another tight game for Minnesota – although they’re good value on the -2.5 spread at -120   with 888Sport.

Zimmer’s men had a down week on offense against the Falcons, but were efficient. Back them to get back over the 20-point mark at odds of -105   with Betway on the over for 21.5 points. Despite his quality, Diggs has not found the endzone in three weeks. The wideout has five touchdowns on the season – back him to end his drought at +200   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Minnesota Vikings To Beat Carolina Panthers
Sunday 10th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -141

Minnesota Vikings To Cover -2.5 Spread
Sunday 10th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -120

Minnesota Vikings To Score Over 21.5 Points
Sunday 10th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: -105

Stefon Diggs To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 10th December 2017 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
Odds: +200

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