Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers, 1p.m. EST
Oh what could have been. The Vikings were a field goal away from advancing in the playoffs last year and potentially going toe to toe with Carolina. Instead, they ended up with extra time off to prepare for this meeting. Minnesota beefed up their offensive line via free agency and added Laquon Treadwell at wide receiver to boost their offense. This could pose a problem for a Carolina team that lost their best cover corner to free agency.
Keys to the Game
The Vikings are going to need Teddy Bridgewater to be effective passing the ball. Everyone in the world knows that Adrian Peterson can run the ball and Carolina’s front seven will be ready. They’re going to sell out to make sure AP doesn’t beat them. Lucky for Bridgewater, he won’t have to contend with Josh Norman on the outside, which will open up his options quite a bit. This would be a great game for Laquon Treadwell to prove Minnesota right for drafting him and pull down a redzone touchdown.
The name of the game will be contain Adrian Peterson. Bridgewater is not one of the league’s elite passers and Carolina has the ability to overwhelm him and pressure him into mistakes. Containing Peterson on the ground will force the Vikings into second and third and long, keeping their offense one dimensional and allowing Carolina to focus on defending Minnesota’s talented receivers.