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Predictions: Vikings vs. Panthers

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Minnesota Vikings (2-0) will travel to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. There is a good chance these two teams could face again in the playoffs. This should an exciting matchup.

Panthers writer Anthony Rizzuti gave his prediction on how the game could go.

Anthony Rizzuti,  @Anthony_Rizzuti

Much of the focus for this meeting, perhaps, will be placed on who isn’t padded up in Charlotte for Week 3. In addition to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota will not have running back Adrian Peterson, left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at their disposal, while Carolina is now forced to make-do with a backfield duo of Cameron-Artis Payne and Fozzy Whittaker sans an injured Jonathan Stewart. But who is there is an absolutely white-hot Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin, along with fellow wide receiver Devin Funchess and tight end Greg Olsen, present considerable size (and skill) discrepancies for the Vikings’ secondary. Expect the reigning MVP in Cam Newton to take advantage of those mismatches, many of which may come in the slot against former Panther and 5-foot-9 corner Captain Munnerlyn, and give head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense their toughest test all season.

That thrashing, however, went down in 2014. And heading into Sunday, we’re no longer looking at two mediocre teams trying to break into the conference’s elite. Instead, we’re primed for a battle that we could potentially see again down the line in January.

The only thing more frigid than the weather conditions during the last matchup between these two teams was the performance of the then 3-8-1 Carolina Panthers. On an unforgivingly cold afternoon that dipped to as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit at TCF Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings rode to a comfortable 31-13 win on the strength of not one, but two touchdown returns on a pair of blocked punts at the expense of Carolina’s troubled special teams unit. 

Panthers 34, Vikings 17

Ali Siddiqui, @asiddiqui15

Vikings won in their last meeting against the Panthers 31-13 at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014 and lead the all-time series 7-5. Vikings have improved since then, but so have the Panthers.

The Vikings will be without Matt Kalil and Adrian Peterson. Sam Bradford, though, had a very nice debut last week in their win over Green Bay and Stefon Diggs is off to a great start, leading the league in receiving yards. The defense will again be without defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, but could get cornerback Xavier Rhodes back. The defense has played very well even without Rhodes, so if he is back, it will be huge, especially since the Panthers have Kelvin Benjamin back this season. Losing him hurts, even though Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are better receivers and blockers.

Shutting down Cam Newton and the offense certainly won’t be an easy task, but the Vikings still have a very good shot at holding them below 23 points. The problem, however, is that their offense is not very good right now, even if Bradford and Diggs continue to have a nice connection. 

This could very well be the Vikings toughest matchup of the season. They could make it interesting but may need the defense to score two touchdowns to win this game like they did in Tennessee two weeks ago.

Panthers 20 Vikings 14

For more from Ali, follow him on Twitter @asiddiqui15. For more Vikings news and updates, follow @spot_vikings

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