Minnesota Vikings vs Carolina Panthers
Sunday 10th December (6:00pm UK Time)
- Winner: Vikings 4/6, Panthers 5/4 (Ladbrokes)
The Vikings look to have finally gotten over the hump of being a ‘nearly’ team this year with their NFC-leading 10-2 record. In past seasons the team has shown promise, often starting the season with a great winning streak, only to see it disappear later in the year in tough divisional games.
Playing in one of the tougher divisions in the NFL, head coach Mike Zimmer deserves all the praise possible considering his team is without its starting quarterback or running back. The defence has been stifling, allowing just 289 yards per game, the second lowest in the NFL, along with just 77 rushing yards per game, also second lowest in the NFL. Defensive lineman Everson Griffin is almost unstoppable, and when you combine constant defensive line pressure with a lockdown cornerback in Xavier Rhodes then you really start to give opposing offences nightmares.
The Panthers have been frustrating this year, one week showing the form that took them to the Superbowl just a few years ago and then another week showing the same form that took them to 6-10 last year. It’s a surprise that they are 8-4, but two losses to the Saints in division matches currently sees them sat at sixth seed in the NFC.
The team traded away Cam Newton’s main weapon earlier in the year, leaving him without a legitimate number one wide receiver and a dodgy running game that hasn’t seen rookie running back Christian McCaffery live up to his pre-draft hype. Luckily for the team, the defence has played extremely well behind potential Defensive Player of the Year, Luke Kuechly. The Boston College linebacker is a sight to behold as he moves across the field, seamlessly being involved in every tackle on the field in some way.
This game will come down to the trenches and whether Carolina’s offensive line can get any kind of hold on the game. To have a chance at winning, Cam will have to make plays with his feet and rely on mismatches between his running backs and the Viking linebackers to find spaces. The Vikings offence will face one of their sterner tests of the year, so it will be interesting to see if Case Keenum’s hot hand continues.
Sports.net's Top Tip:
Panthers Under 14.5
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday 10th December (9:25pm UK Time)
- Winner: Raiders 17/10, Chiefs 1/2 (William Hill)
The Raiders have had a rough year so far, but this week gives them a chance to control their own fortune for the rest of the season. Last year they were one of the most exciting teams in the NFL behind Derek Carr’s breakout season; that is until he went down with a broken leg that derailed the team and left them with a sour taste in their mouth, dreaming about what could have been.
The team brought in retired running back Marshawn Lynch for some running power, but that experiment seems to have failed. The offence that was such a powerhouse last year is lacking its spark and seems to struggle getting any kind of momentum moving down the field. The defence has been flat out awful, so much so that they set an NFL record for starting the year without an interception and, as such, fired their defensive coordinator.
The Chiefs are at a serious crossroads and really need to get their act together. The team started 5-0 and was flying, but have since gone 1-6 to find themselves sitting at .500, with their entire credibility as a Super Bowl contender in tatters. Oakland were responsible for one of those losses, triumphing in a Week 6 thriller that saw the game-winning touchdown for the Raiders come with no time left on the clock. Since then, the team has been humiliated by the likes of the Jets and Giants and, in a desperate plea for help, signed corner back Darelle Revis, which really has not worked out. To add insult to injury, the team will be without its starting corner back Marcus Peters after he was suspended due to his conduct in last week’s game.
If Carr and the Raiders wide receivers can get on track early, then this game could easily be a blowout. It will be up the Chiefs defensive staff to get creative to get some stops for the offence that, for all intents and purposes, looks fine after scoring 31 points last week.
Sports.net's Top Tip:
Chiefs Win and Over 47.5 Points
Please note that odds may change before the games.