Minnesota’s Offensive Game Plan:
It’s really quite simple give the ball to Peterson repeatedly. Feeding their beast at running back serves two purposes. On one hand, giving the ball to Peterson gives Minnesota the best chance to win; on the other, giving the ball to Peterson will help the Vikings’ rookie quarterback, Christian Ponder to become more comfortable.
The Vikings passing game has been an embarrassment to say the least. As bad as the Panthers’ run defense is, the Vikings’ passing game is just as bad. The Vikings come into Week 8 with the NFL’s 29th ranked passing offense averaging just 175 yards passing a game. Ponder, who was the surprising 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft will be seeing action in just his third NFL game and will be making his second start. Minnesota’s tight ends, Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph will be Ponder’s best friends as he becomes more acclimated to the NFL game. Carolina’s linebackers and safeties should expect to see significant time covering Minnesota’s talented duo at tight-end because the Panthers should be able to shut down the Vikings’ two biggest threats at receiver in Michael Jenkins and Percy Harvin. It would be wise for Panthers’ Defensive Coordinator, Sean McDermott to consistently blitz Ponder in hopes of forcing him to make the quick decisions which could result in costly turnovers.
Minnesota’s Defensive Game Plan:
Stuffing the run has been Minnesota’s forte this season as they are only allowing 87 rushing yards per contest. If the Vikings continue their success containing the run tomorrow, it will force Cam Newton to beat them which is a lot to put on the shoulders of the typical NFL rookie. Unfortunately for the Vikings, however, Cam Newton is not your typical NFL rookie.
The Vikings have to do their due diligence in the pass defense department to come out of Charlotte with a victory. Minnesota’s pass defense currently ranks 29th in the NFL giving up nearly 275 yards through the air per week. The disappointing performance of the Vikings’ secondary could result in Cam Newton having another big game through the air which may cause the defensive coordinators of Carolina’s remaining opponents to have restless nights. Cam’s confidence will continue to grow with every big game he has and tomorrow could be a big confidence boost for not only Newton, but the entire Carolina team if they can come away with their second consecutive victory.
Prediction: Carolina will come away from Sunday’s game with a 34 – 17 victory. The Panthers will certainly allow Peterson to have his stats, but he will run out of steam as the game goes on forcing the Vikings to rely on the right arm of Ponder.