Vikings win 23-17
The Minnesota Vikings enter Week 14 of the NFL season on an eight-game winning streak and hold their fate in their own hands when it comes to winning the NFC North and capturing the first seed in the NFC playoffs. But to do that, they first have to beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Carolina has a lot going for them. Their offense is sixth in the league in third down conversion percentage, which means they know how to keep drives alive. But they also tend to turn the ball over more than they take it away, being -6 in turnover differential while Minnesota is +4.
Offensively, there will be some issues for the Vikings. Panthers corner Captain Munnerlyn should be able to slow down Adam Thielen or Kyle Rudolph in the slot since he’s one of the better nickel corners in the league and Carolina defensive end Mario Addison will be able to get some pressure. However, expect Case Keenum to once again be an efficient quarterback who spreads the ball around and the combination of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to do some damage in the open field.
On defense, all eyes will be on the matchup between Everson Griffen and Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil. Griffen enters Week 14 fourtth in the NFL in sacks and Kalil has been a big disappointment for the Panthers this season. Minnesota’s defense will be able to force Carolina quarterback Cam Newton out of the pocket, but the former NFL MVP can also do some damage from that spot.
This will be another tough game, but the Panthers are prone to making some big mistakes and the Vikings are good at capitalizing on those kinds of errors. I expect Minnesota to emerge victorious.