Five questions with Cat Crave: Minnesota Vikings vs Panthers in Week 14

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a touchdown pass against Shaq Green-Thompson #54 of the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a touchdown pass against Shaq Green-Thompson #54 of the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

What is the Carolina Panthers fan perspective on their game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14? We asked Cat Crave five questions about the game!

Week 14 of the NFL season will put the Minnesota Vikings up against one of the toughest teams in the NFC when they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Since the Vikings are 10-2 and on an 8 game winning streak, some fans might be looking past the Panthers, but that would be a huge mistake, as they are positioning themselves for a playoff run this season as well.

To find out more about the Carolina perspective on this matchup, we reached out to Brandon Scott at Cat Crave, which is FanSided’s site covering everything to do with the Panthers. Here is how he responded to our questions:

1) Carolina is currently 8-4 and in 2nd place in their division. How important is it for the Panthers to beat Minnesota?

“Win or lose on Sunday the Panthers will remain in the playoff picture for the immediate future. However, Carolina needs some help to win the NFC South after losing both games to division leader, New Orleans. Essentially being reduced to fighting for a wild-card berth, the Panthers desperately need a victory in hopes of strengthening their grip on a playoff position and building momentum for the final stretch of regular season play.”

2) What is one way the Panthers have an advantage over Minnesota?

“The Minnesota defense is arguably one of the best in the NFL, currently top ten in almost every statistical category. While known for stuffing the run, the Vikings have been susceptible to pass-catching running backs. Fortunately, the Panthers have one of the best in the business with rookie first-round pick Christian McCaffrey already grabbing 64 passes and four touchdowns this season.

Minnesota is also a top ten team in running back targets allowed with 91 so far this year. Allowing 61 catches, 439 yards and one touchdown it may be an area that Carolina can exploit. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton needs to get rid of the football to avoid the pass rush, possibly playing into Carolina’s favor with multiple completions to McCaffrey.”

3) Who is one player for the Panthers who Minnesota Vikings fans may not know, but should?

“Punter, Michael Palardy. Until last week he was a relative unknown but a bobbled punt attempt and ensuing incomplete pass created highlights for all of the wrong reasons if you’re a Panthers fan. Dropped punt aside, Palardy has been a tremendous weapon for Carolina all year without receiving much credit. 

In a game featuring two great defenses, a special teams play could be the difference in winning or losing on Sunday. Palardy took over for legendary punter Andy Lee in Carolina last season and beat out the now Arizona Cardinals punter during training camp and the preseason. His ability to flip the field could be a big factor this week.”

4) Which one player from each team will have a big day and why?

“Offensively for Carolina big things will be expected from tight end Greg Olsen. The veteran Panthers captain was sidelined in Week 2 following a foot injury, attempting a comeback two weeks ago before missing the game at New Orleans. Coach Ron Rivera stated Olsen could have played but the team was being cautious with their star due to the game being played on turf.

In his absence, Ed Dickson has been phenomenal. While he hasn’t posted Olsen like numbers, his ability to fill the void created by Olsen’s absence and minimize the impact has been beneficial for the Panthers all season. On Sunday, Olsen is expected to be completely healthy and ready to participate at 100-percent. If he does, having both Olsen and Dickson on the field at the same time should create some mismatches for Carolina, allowing Dickson to shine while Olsen draws all of the attention.

Opposite, Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph has to be excited about Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson potentially being inactive. Thompson is often responsible for tight end coverage in defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ “Buffalo” nickel role, but plantar fasciitis could keep him from suiting up. If he doesn’t, former Vikings defensive back Captain Munnerlyn will see an increased role in the nickel corner position creating a mismatch and potential big day for Rudolph.”

5) What is your prediction for the game, including a final score?

“Carolina is beginning a three-game home stretch and needs a win to build some momentum after losing an opportunity at first-place in the division last week. The Vikings enter as winners of eight straight and the top seed in the NFC. Both teams are carried by their defensive efforts and each should be limited in their offensive production.

Unfortunately, as the Panthers get the services of center Ryan Kalil and Olsen back, others have suffered. Unlike the Vikings, who have resiliently battled back despite numerous injuries of their own the Panthers potentially losing Thompson and fellow linebacker Thomas Davis hurts Carolina’s defense.

The Vikings continue their streak in a narrow, hard-fought effort. Minnesota Vikings – 20, Carolina Panthers – 16″

Next: How to watch Vikings at Panthers in Week 14

Huge thanks go out to Brandon Scott at Cat Crave for taking the time to answer these questions about the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers for us at The Viking Age. You can follow his personal account on Twitter as well as Cat Crave to share some football tweets and have fun!