Carolina at Minnesota
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, November 30, 2014
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Carolina Panthers haven't won a game since Week 5, but a victory Sunday at Minnesota would keep them right in the mix in the weak NFC South. The Vikings have a better record than the Panthers, but their playoff hopes are decidedly less promising. Minnesota is mired in the NFC North cellar at 4-7, while the Panthers (3-7-1) are only a half-game out of the division lead despite being tied for the second-fewest wins in the NFC.
While the Panthers are still in their division race, the Vikings missed a chance to stay in theirs when they lost 24-21 to NFC North leader Green Bay last week. "We're not into moral victories around here," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters. "We've got to keep pushing, keep grinding to get over the hump." The Vikings lead the all-time series 6-5 but Carolina has won two of the last three meetings, including a 35-10 victory in Minnesota last season.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -2.5. O/U: 43.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-7-1): Carolina should get fullback Mike Tolbert back after missing eight games with a leg injury, which could provide a boost to the league's No. 25 rushing offense. Part of the problem with the ground game has been quarterback Cam Newton's reduced production running the ball, though he still ranks second on the team with 293 yards and is tied for the team lead with two TDs. Newton's passing also has been inconsistent; he has completed only 58.6 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 interceptions compared to 12 TDs.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (4-7): Minnesota lost tackle Phil Loadholt to a pectoral tear, a tough blow for an offense that leans on the running game. The Vikings rank 30th in the league in total offense (309 yards per game) but average a respectable 116.5 yards on the ground with rookie Jerick McKinnon (538 yards) and veteran Matt Asiata (279 yards, 6 TDs) leading the way, though Asiata (concussion) is listed as doubtfu. To beat the Panthers, Minnesota likely needs a solid game from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw multiple touchdown passes for the first time last week versus the Packers.
1. Vikings DBs have recorded 10 interceptions this season after totaling only six all of last season, while Newton has thrown an interception in seven straight games and five in the past two contests.
2. Carolina has not scored a touchdown in the first half in its last six games.
3. Minnesota DE Everson Griffen ranks second in the NFC with nine sacks, while Newton has been sacked 32 times, third-most in the league.
PREDICTION: Panthers 23, Vikings 20
Stats and Records