5 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers – Week 12

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph /
5 of 6
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /

Bridgewater will have a happy homecoming

In an alternate universe, Teddy Bridgewater would be the Vikings starting quarterback and leading Minnesota to a long stretch of success. While it’s not a given, it’s a curious reality to think about after the Vikings paid up for Kirk Cousins in the spring of 2018.

The bad news for Viking fans is that Bridgewater could be in for a big game. The Vikings defense has been better as of late, but they are still giving up plenty of yards to opposing offenses. One factor is their lack of pressure, which has allowed quarterbacks to stand in the pocket and pick them apart.

Last week, the Vikings could only get pressure on Andy Dalton on four of 34 dropbacks. When faced with a clean pocket, Dalton shredded Mike Zimmer’s defense for 193 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.

This week, the Vikings will face Bridgewater, who ranks eighth in passer rating (116.7) with a clean pocket. By comparison, Bridgewater’s passer rating when pressured drops to 45.3, which is the ninth-worst in the NFL among qualifying quarterbacks.

Those numbers make it clear the Vikings’ defensive line must do a better job of getting into the backfield on Sunday. If not, Bridgewater will be able to use D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel to make Sunday’s homecoming a happy one.