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Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers Game Preview (10/17/21)
On Sunday, the Panthers suffered a disappointing loss to the Eagles in a game they really should have won based on how both teams played. Sam Darnold threw three interceptions in an unusually poor game depending on how he’s played this season. Minnesota narrowly escaped with a victory over the Lions in a game they shouldn’t be very happy with either. Both of these teams are hoping to bid for a Wild Card spot in the NFC, but they need to change a few things for that to happen.
Minnesota Vikings vs Carolina Panthers betting odds
It is difficult to manage this game as these two teams are talented but underperformed last week. The Vikings have incredible attacking talent, but Mike Zimmer doesn’t seem willing to use them properly to help the team become an absolute juggernaut. However, Kirk Cousins is having a hot start to the year and the Vikings have an overwhelming amount of attacking talent. It’s going to be a close game, and for me it’s a question of whether or not Christian McCaffrey can go, because he’s been so crucial to Sam Darnold’s success. I’ll be back later in the week to update my pick, but I’m taking the Vikings on the road for now.
My predictions: Vikings win 24-20, Vikings cover, less than 46 points
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Dated: Sunday 17th October
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Site: Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
TV coverage: FOX
Live stream of Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
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Minnesota Vikings: RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) Q, DT Michael Pierce (elbow) Q, CB Cameron Dantzler (disease) IR COVID-19, CB Harrison Hand (undisclosed) IR COVID-19, TE Irv Smith (knee) IR
Carolina Panthers: RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstrings) A, OT Cameron Erving (neck) A, OLB Shaq Thompson (foot) A, CB Stephon Gilmore (quadriceps) PUP, CB Juston Burris (groin) IR, CB Jaycee Horn (foot) IR, CB Troy Pride (ACL) IR
Minnesota Vikings Analysis
Kirk Cousins is off to a great start to the season with a 103.7 passer rating, the 12th best in the NFL, and a 69.6% completion percentage, the seventh best in the NFL. Cousins also threw ten touchdowns for just two interceptions. He’s been incredibly excellent in the red zone with a league-leading 81.3% completion rate and eight touchdowns without interceptions inside the 20-yard line. The Panthers’ weakness was in the red zone defense as they had allowed a touchdown on 80% of their moves in the red zone on defense, the fourth highest in the NFL, so Cousins should be very effective in again. the 20.
The Vikings’ offensive line has been one of the most exciting units in the NFL to watch as they are almost the reverse of last season. In 2020, Minnesota ranked first in the NFL for run blocking and 26th for pass protection, per Football Outsiders. This year, they are 26th in race blocking and third in pass protection. Christian Darrisaw entered the pitch on Sunday for the first time, and it may be time for him to become the left tackle starter as Rashod Hill has struggled so far. Cousins remained upright, however, which helped him succeed as a passer.
Dalvin Cook has missed two of the last three games, but Alexander Mattison has played exceptionally well in his absence. Mattison has led the team with 61 carries for 245 yards in the past three weeks. Justin Jefferson is also in the middle of a hot stretch with over 100 yards in two of the last three games. Adam Thielen has slowed down a bit and hasn’t gone over 100 meters this season. Thielen hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3, but he could change that this week. Tyler Conklin and KJ Osborn provide ancillary support to this team.
The Vikings have made an effort to improve their defense during the offseason, and that has allowed them to allow them the eighth-lowest points in the NFL so far. After not playing at all last season, Danielle Hunter has five sacks, tied for fifth in the NFL. He and Everson Griffen provide a powerful cutting edge combination alongside a mix of talented inside defensive linemen. Bashaud Breeland is the weak point in that defense, and he’s been burned several times this season. Still, Minnesota is hoping Cameron Dantzler or Harrison Hand can return this week.
Minnesota Vikings Depth Map
QB: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Dalvin Cook
RB2: Alexander Mattison
WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: Adam Thielen
WR3: KJ Osborn
TE1: Tyler Conklin
TE2: Chris Herndon
Minnesota Vikings Team Pages
Carolina Panthers Analysis
Everyone wants Sam Darnold to be so successful that we can forget what turned into a bad start to the season with his new team. Darnold is only 26th in the NFL with an 85.1 passer rating and has thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions. He will benefit from the eventual return of Christian McCaffrey. Still, five interceptions in two games make him look eerily like some of the Jets’ worst iterations of Sam Darnold. The Panthers’ playoff hopes this season rest entirely on his shoulders, and he needs to play better to put the team back in the winning column.
Sam Darnold has undoubtedly been held back by an offensive line that ranks 24th in pass protection by Football Outsiders. Darnold has been sacked 14 times this season, tied for fourth in the NFL, as the Panthers have yet to find a solution to the right tackle as veteran Cam Erving and rookie Brady Christensen have struggled this season. Left tackle Taylor Moton and center Matt Paradis played solid football, but the rest of the offensive line could be improved.
This week, Christian McCaffrey’s hopeful comeback could be huge for the team, but Chuba Hubbard has performed pretty well in his absence. Hubbard had 24 carries for 101 yards last week and added five catches for 33 yards. Hubbard, however, is not the all-round weapon that CMC is. DJ Moore had a great start to the year, totaling over 100 yards in two straight weeks before finishing with just five catches for 42 yards last week. Robby Anderson didn’t live up to the preseason hype, but Terrace Marshall Jr. showed flashes of future big play as a rookie.
The Panthers are second in the NFL for defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders, but they’ve also faced the fifth easiest schedule, so I’m still not convinced by them. Shaq Thompson, the team’s leader in tackles, is on the injury report and may not be able to adjust to a foot problem this week. Haason Reddick was a great free agent addition and leads the team with 6.5 sacks and nine QB hits. Brian Burns has been decent as a complementary passing rush presence. Done Jackson and AJ Bouye provided heavy coverage in high school. The Panthers’ defense ranks third for points per game allowed, but I’m not 100% convinced of them as a top unit.
Carolina Panthers Depth Chart
QB: Sam Darnold
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
RB2: Chuba Hubbard
WR1: DJ Moore
WR2: Robby Anderson
WR3: Marshall Jr. Terrace
TE1: Tommy Tremble
TE2: Ian Thomas
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers Daily Fantasy Picks
There are several top names for fantasy football production in this game, but I have it as one of the lowest rated games on the slate. Still, I have a ton of interest in DJ Moore as he should see a cover of Bashaud Breeland, which has been burned multiple times. If Christian McCaffrey returns, you can deploy it with confidence, although its potential is too limited for GPP queues. Of course, the same can be said for Dalvin Cook. Justin Jefferson is one of the best receivers in the NFL, and I have no problem putting him in your roster, even against strong defense.
I’ve been writing about sports for Lineups since early 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated with a sports management degree from the University of Michigan. With my background in the sports industry and a solid knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sport, I hope to tell exciting stories about the world of sport as it unfolds around me.