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Cassel To Replace Ponder As Vikings QB

According to reports, Matt Cassel will start in place of Christian Ponder when the Minnesota Vikings host the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.

According to reports, Matt Cassel will start in place of Christian Ponder when the Minnesota Vikings host the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.

Matt Cassel looks set to take over the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback job with Christian Ponder being relegated to a backup role.

The move, which has been hinted it at for the past two weeks, looks certain after a despondent Ponder reported to the media Thursday that head coach Leslie Frazier had informed the players as to who will start Sunday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers.

While Frazier later stated that the decision hadn’t been made, Ponder’s body language and the fact that Cassel has been working with the first team in practice this week leads to the conclusion that it will be No. 16 that starts on Sunday.

Cassel replaced Ponder, who was suffering from a fractured rib, in Week 4’s 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium in London. At the time, Frazier informed the media that Ponder would return to the starting lineup when the team returned to Minneapolis. However, it appears now that Cassel’s performance in that game was good enough to see Ponder Wally Pipped.

Cassel went 16 of 25 against the Steelers, throwing two touchdowns – both to Greg Jennings – and no interceptions. His performance, which helped the team to its first win of the season, may have been overshadowed somewhat by Adrian Peterson’s 140-yard, two-touchdown day, but it looks like it’s won him a starting role, at least for now.

Cassel’s job in the first unit may be on borrowed time. The Vikings signed Josh Freeman earlier this week after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday. Freeman is reported to be on a crash course to learn the Vikings’ offensive scheme. Whether or not Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman brought Freeman in to be a starter remains to be seen.

Freeman’s arrival at the club could also spell the end of Ponder’s tenure in the Twin Cities.

Ponder told the media that “some of the dynamics of this organization have changed.” When asked about a trade, the third-year quarterback initially responded that a “trade would be difficult.”

“I spent a little time worrying about it,” he said. “[I] realized that’s no good and it’s not going to help me out.

“My focus is what I can control and that’s getting healthy, which I have been doing, and getting better on the football field, which I feel like I’ve been doing.”

Ponder was selected in the first round (12th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft. In 30 games with the Vikings, he has completed 59.2 percent of his passes, compiling 5,479 yards passing, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

In three games this season, he has completed 59.0 percent of his passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions.

Cassel arrived in Minneapolis this past offseason after spending four years (2009-12) with the Kansas City Chiefs and four years with the New England Patriots (2005-08).

The Vikings (1-3, 1-1 home) will host the Carolina Panthers (1-3, 0-2 road) at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome this Sunday, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.

Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings odds for 10/13/13 are available now.

The Panthers’ start to the season has been little better than the Vikings. The big difference is that the Charlotte side was poor for much of last season too, and now a lot of people are looking for a lot of moves from the front office.

After shutting out the New York Giants in Week 3, Carolina returned from a bye week to be soundly beaten 22-6 by the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. A loss against the Vikings will see the side move to 1-4 for the third straight year and will mark the fourth year in a row the team has compiled at least four losses through five games.

Minnesota (-135) opens as the favorite over Carolina (+122) on the moneyline.

The Vikings won the last meeting between the sides (Oct. 2011) and has taken three of the last four. They’ve also taken the last two at home and own a 5-2 record against the Panthers at the Metrodome. Carolina’s last win in Minneapolis came on September 22, 2002.

The spread opened at 1.5 but has risen to 3 with Bovada. The Vikings (2-2-0 ATS) have flip-flopped against the spread this season. They covered against the Steelers in London last time out. The Panthers (1-3-0 ATS) have managed to cover the spread just once this season, the 38-0 win over the Giants.

The two sides have each covered the spread five times in their 10 meetings all-time, but Minnesota has gone 4-2-0 ATS in the last six played at the Metrodome.

The over/under opened at 45 but has slipped to 44. All four Vikings games this season have seen the total go over, while Carolina (1-3-0) has favored the under. The total has gone under in six of Carolina’s last seven trips to Minnesota.

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