A couple of rookie first round quarterbacks will be on display Sunday in Week 8 squaring off against each other when the Cam Newton and Carolina Panthers face Christian Ponder the Minnesota Vikings.
While neither team has a chance to make the playoffs, the two rookies have shown plenty of capabilities.
Newton has the edge in playing time, as he has been the starter since the beginning of the season. This will be Ponder’s second-career start.
The Carolina rookie has done nothing but impress all season long, despite the 2-5 record, the future of the team looks solid.
“We knew we had to find a franchise quarterback,” Carolina head coach Ron Rivera said. “We knew we had to find that guy, whether he was on our roster, through a trade or through the draft. We knew what we wanted to do and we went out and got him.”
For Ponder and Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier, they have ushered in a new era in Minnesota after the rookie started last week against the Green Bay Packers in favor of former starter Donovan McNabb.
Frazier looks for consistent improvement from the 12th-overall selection.
“That’s what we’re hoping, that he will continue to gain more confidence, get comfortable with some of the things we’re doing, and continuing to grow as a quarterback,” Frazier said. “If that does happen, we should continue to develop and come together as a football team as well.”
It will be a challenge though, against a Carolina defense that ranks near the top-10 in passing yards allowed, surrendering just 225 yards per game.
“The more that I get comfortable, the more that I trust things to know that they’ll be there,” Ponder said of this upcoming game.
Fortunately for Ponder, he gets to hand the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson lads the NFL in rushing this season with 780 yards and eight touchdowns. It is a good bet that Carolina will get a heavy dose of the running back this Sunday.
But oddsmakers are giving the edge to Carolina in this one, with NFL Week 8 Betting Odds setting the Panthers as 3.5-point favorites over the Vikings to get their third win of the season.