4 key Panthers matchups to watch at the Vikings in Week 12

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns vs. Brian O’Neill

Brian Burns has been a man on a mission of late for the Carolina Panthers. The stud defensive end looks to be putting everything together just at the right time and can now be regarded as one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers coming off the edge.

He is currently leading all NFC defensive ends after the first round of Pro Bowl voting, which is a further example of just how much he’s caught the eye of late. Burns was credited with three sacks by Pro Football Focus during their dominant display against the Lions and is incredibly difficult to stop when at the top of his game.

The 2019 first-round pick will face a stern test of his credentials on Sunday in the form of Brian O’Neill, who has built on his breakout season last time out with another string of consistent displays this season.

O’Neill has given up two sacks and five penalties from 628 snaps this season on his way to an impressive 76.4 grade from Pro Football Focus. The former Pittsburgh Panther is widely considered as a premier edge protector, but stopping someone like Burns when he’s playing like this is a monumental task.

If Burns can get some more joy from this particular matchup, then it’s going to give Carolina a real boost in their bid to get themselves to 5-7 heading into the bye week.