ROSINSKI: Thoughts on Panthers at Vikings

I have always been fascinated by the betting lines for NFL games. How do those folks in Las Vegas come up with the point spread of each game? According to the experts, the most certain way for a bookmaker to turn a profit is to balance his book, setting a point spread that produces an equal number of dollars wagered on both sides of the line.

THREE POINT DOGS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!

With that in mind, I was stunned to learn that the Panthers are listed as three point underdogs Sunday at Minnesota.

Before the line is set, the handicapper looks at the strengths, weaknesses, momentum and injuries of both teams. So, let's see, the Panthers have won two tough, come-from-behind games, are getting some great second half running from Jonathan Stewart and aggressive defense from the likes of Chris Harris, and, oh yeah, Steve Smith is back after his two game suspension. Yet the Vikings are favored by three points.

Minnesota is switching quarterbacks this week with Gus Frerotte getting the call, running back Adrian Peterson is nursing a sore hamstring, and the team is now 0-2 after blowing a 15 point second half lead to the Colts. Yet, the Vikings are favored by three points.

In a New York Times article a few years ago Chuck Esposito, who runs the Sportsbook at Caesars Palace, explains that the bookie wants to tempt the majority of those wagering toward an outcome that is unlikely, even if only slightly, to happen. Yet the Panthers are three point dogs.

As I sat down at my computer to write this article, six different sports books had Minnesota as three point favorites. But they also reported 74 percent of the bets made were on the Panthers. I guess the majority has been tempted. The only positive I can see in the Vikings favor is the fear of going 0-3. Since the salary cap was initiated 15 years ago, 78 teams have started 0-3 and only two, the ‘98 Bills and '95 Lions, went on to make the playoffs. Of those same 78 teams starting 0-3, 68 had losing seasons.

REMEMBER THE LAST TIME PANTHERS FANS SAW GUS?

It was in 2005 when Frerotte was the starting quarterback for the Dolphins. Carolina fell in Miami 27-24, dropping to 1-2. But they then rallied, winning six straight to propel them to the post season.

REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME STEVE SMITH PLAYED IN THE METRO DOME?

2001 was the season and it was opening weekend in the NFL. Smith, then a rookie, ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, helping give the Panthers their only win of the season.

STEWART IMPRESSIVE

Jonathan Stewart will very soon, I believe, be the starting running back for the Panthers. He produced another solid second half against the Bears, scoring two touchdowns - the second of which was the game winner. I got a look at the Saints last week doing the Westwood One broadcast of their game at Washington. While Reggie Bush did run a punt back for a touchdown, he is hardly a player to entrust your running game to. If the Saints offered Bush in a trade for Stewart, it would be a bad deal for the Panthers. I really believe Stewart, just a couple of games into his NFL career, is already a better running back than Bush. As for the rest of the Saints team, they are really banged up on defense, had three starters out against the Redskins, and might be in for another tough defeat against the Broncos on Sunday.

I'll be in Indy Sunday calling the Colts-Jags game. Talk about desperate. The Jags are 0-2 and facing those same numbers as the Vikings.

Bill Rosinski is a play by play announcer for Westwood One Radio. For more information, visit BillRosinski.com

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