The Vikings have lost their starting quarterback, running back and left tackle. Easy win, right? Wrong. This team put a hurting on Aaron Rodgers last week and they have shown that they play disciplined football. Do you remember the last team that beat this Panthers team other than the Denver Broncos or Atlanta Falcons? That would be the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 of 20015. They didn’t have Adrian Peterson then either. The Vikings could win this game. Read the rest to see if they will.
The three keys to the game are going to be the pressure battle, which team is Digging it more, and who wins the battle of the backup running backs Check out these interesting stats and figures then keep an eye on them during the game.
The Vikings D is ranked 5th in scoring and only give up 15 points per game. And they have tallied seven sacks while giving up on four. And if you watched the Packers game you know Everson Griffen is getting after the quarterback causing turnovers. In fact the Vikings are plus five in the turnover department. If they are to beat Carolina, it will be because they got after Cam and caused mistakes.
The Panthers, on the other hand, can also bring the pressure. While they only have four sacks, coach Ron Rivera insists the pressure is serving it’s purpose by dictating where the ball is thrown and forcing turnovers. Yet the Panthers are only plus one in the turnover category. Win the pressure/turnover battle and win this game.
Can You Digg It?
The Vikings are woeful in the running game (ranking 32nd in the league with 47.5 yards per game), they just lost their all-world running back in AP. However, they surprisingly boast the league’s number one wide receiver in Stefan Diggs who has 285 yards. Sam Bradford said, “You just kind of notice him. He's always getting separation. He seems to always be finding a way to get open.” Some folks have compared him to Antonio Brown. I feel like homer for keeping him on my Fantasy team’s bench this week.
However, the Panthers are ranked seventh against the pass, allowing only 198 yards per game. And don’t forget that Sam Bradford will take deeper drops and will give the Panthers an opportunity to get at him. But if he has time to get the ball to Diggs, it could be a long day for Carolina’s young secondary.
Battle of the Backup Running Backs
No Adrian Peterson, no Jonathan Stewart, no problem? AP has gotten off to a slow start this year and many in Carolina are eager to see Cameron Artis-Payne get his shot. And don’t forget Fozzy. I hope Fozzy tells the opposing team to “Sit on it.” OK, just checking to see if you are still reading, lol. But in all seriousness, whichever backup duo wins tomorrow could be the difference in the game. If you combine Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata’s yards (and maybe Ronnie Hillman’s too) and they out rush Carolina’s combination of CAP, Fozzy and Cam, then the Vikings will most likely have won. But I don’t think they will.
Bringing It All Together
This game will not be a cakewalk and very well could be a preview to the NFC Championship game. The Vikings get after you on defense and have the league’s leading wide receiver. The Panthers have to play disciplined football. They have to stop giving up big plays and they have to sack Sam Bradford three or more times. I’m taking Carolina in a close one. 21-17 Panthers.