4 keys to victory for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Panthers in Week 12

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Keep Brian Burns quiet

For those who might be unaware of Brian Burns, he is one of the NFL’s hottest young defensive ends. The second-year-pro has brought his game on a substantial amount after a promising rookie campaign on the rotation and the sky is the limit for him if he continues this sort of form moving forward.

Preventing Burns from generating pressure on Kirk Cousins is a monumental task, but one the Minnesota Vikings must get right. The pass-rusher has probably stood out like a sore thumb on film during the preparation process and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the gameplan from a protection perspective focused almost solely on the former first-round pick.

If the Panthers don’t get pressure consistently from Burns, then it generally doesn’t come at all.

Last weekend’s win over the Lions was the first time a number of individuals made their presence felt in the backfield and it remains to be seen whether they can build on this positive momentum this time out.

Burns will be coming up against right tackle Brian O’Neill, who has been in tremendous form this season despite a less than stellar outing in Week 11. This is a battle between two of the best young players at their respective positions and who comes out on top is going to be key.