Game Predictions & Player Projections - MIN vs. CAR

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: MIN 13, CAR 24 (Line: CAR by 7)

The Vikings rise to 2-0 with their defeat of the Packers but now head to face the 1-1 Panthers who remain at home after laying down 47 points on the visiting 49ers last week. The loss of Adrian Peterson is not catastrophic but is significant, especially on the road.

Minnesota Vikings

1 @TEN 25-16 10 @WAS ---
2 GB 17-14 11 ARI ---
3 @CAR --- 12 @DET ---
4 NYG --- 13 DAL ---
5 HOU --- 14 @JAC ---
6 BYE --- 15 IND ---
7 @PHI --- 16 @GB ---
8 @CHI --- 17 CHI ---
9 DET ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Kirk Cousins 270,1
QB Trevor Siemian 10 190
RB Latavius Murray 40 5-30
WR Stefon Diggs 4-60
WR Adam Thielen 4-50
TE Kyle Rudolph 4-40,1

Pregame Notes: The Vikings have only scored two offensive touchdowns this year and even before Adrian Peterson left the rushing offense was not doing well. That is not likely to improve heading to Carolina. The passing offense came to life in Week 2 with Sam Bradford very sharp in his first start but the reality was that he had a very ordinary game save for Stefon Diggs dominating as a wideout. The need to cover Diggs is likely not lost on the Panthers.

QUARTERBACK : Sam Bradford already beat the Packers so his place in Minnesota hearts is already cemented. Bradford passed for 286 yards and two scores that included connecting with Stefon Diggs for 182 yards and a score. He only passed for 104 yards otherwise and was sacked four times but the Vikings still have not committed any turnovers this year. A great defense and no turnovers helps any quarterback.

RUNNING BACK : Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus and early word is that he may be able to return in a few weeks. It depends on how the doctors treat it and how well he responds. Peterson has always been a quick healer but he is also 31 years old. He only had 31 carries for 50 yards on the year anyway and was not a part of any offensive success. With Teddy Bridgewater gone, the defenses have sold out to stopping him.

In his absence, it will be a committee of Jerick McKinney and Matt Asiata. McKinney should get the bigger share but when they did this in 2014 it was Asiata with 164-570-9 as a rusher and 113-538-0 for McKinney. The split won't matter much if the blocking doesn't improve though the defenses are less likely to stack the line against that duo.

WIDE RECEIVER : There is Stefon Diggs and then there is no one. Diggs comes off his second straight 100 yard game when he trashed the Packers with nine catches for 182 yards and a score. He has four more catches and 164 more yards than all wideouts combined. He has 48 more yards than the rest of the team combined. While that worked great the last two weeks, it will be an issue when facing a top secondary like this week. Less so in almost every other game this year though.

TIGHT END : Kyle Rudolph has seven catches for 96 yards as the second best receiver for the Vikings and he even caught one of the touchdowns against the Packers. That is notable with a new quarterback who already relies on him.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Panthers were dinged by C.J. Anderson in Week 1 but then shut down the 49ers in Carolina last week. The Vikings rushing game is already ranked a shocking #32 and this is not a spot to expect a big turnaround using a committee of second stringers.

Rudolph could be considered but he's not reliable for more than moderate yardage yet. The only player that now seems a must start is Stefon Diggs but the Panthers have not allowed more than 49 yards to any wideout and no touchdowns. He's not going to surprise anyone and they will prepare expressly for him. That makes all the Vikings below average starters this week though Diggs has undeniable upside. Torrey Smith scored on them last week from the same spot.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 26 32 16 17 11 1
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 13 25 3 19 8 24

Carolina Panthers

1 @DEN 20-21 10 KC ---
2 SF 46-27 11 NO ---
3 MIN --- 12 @OAK ---
4 @ATL --- 13 @SEA ---
5 TB --- 14 SD ---
6 @NO --- 15 @WAS ---
7 BYE --- 16 ATL ---
8 ARI --- 17 @TB ---
9 @LA ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 40,1 250,1
RB C.J. Anderson 80,1 4-30
RB Cameron Artis-Payne 20
RB Fozzy Whittaker 60 3-20
WR Devin Funchess 2-30
WR Torrey Smith 3-40
TE Greg Olsen 7-80
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers made amends for the loss in the season opener when they crushed the 49ers so badly and so early that they let up later in the game and let them make it look like it was much closer than it was. This goes against a tough defense but then the next three games should all be wins with plenty of fantasy points to spread around. The defense has allowed an uncharacteristic 24 points per game so far but that should tighten up from now on.

QUARTERBACK : Nothing wrong with Cam Newton. True to form of last year he had a softer matchup at home and laid the wood to the 49ers. He passed for 353 yards and four scores. The absence of Jonathan Stewart may actually prompt Newton to run even more often and he already averages 46 yards per game.

RUNNING BACK : Jonathan Stewart got his annual injury out of the way early this year and will miss at least a week or more with a hamstring strain. Fozzy Whitaker took his place last week and turned in 100 yards on 16 carries. Cameron Artis-Payne will be active this week but Whitaker will take the bigger share.

WIDE RECEIVER : Kelvin Benjamin continues to delight. He had 91 yards and a score in Week 1 and then turned in seven receptions for 108 yards and two scores last week. Devin Funchess even scored once though he's only had three short catches on the year. So far the offense uses mostly just Benjamin and Greg Olsen. They share four of the five receiving touchdowns this year.

TIGHT END : Greg Olsen followed up his 7-73 game in Denver with 122 yards on five catches for one touchdown versus the 49ers. Both he and Benjamin dominate the targets.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: There is no arguing - the Vikings defense is playing great. They have allowed at least one passing score each week but they have shut down the opponents rushing efforts. Demarco Murray caught two scores to skew the stats, but no one has rushed for more than 50 yards on them.

Jordy Nelson scored last week but all across the board, the defense has held the opponents to only moderate gains. This will be the best offense that they will have faced and it comes on the road. There is no reason to ever bench Cam Newton who should throw for at least one score and stands a great shot at a rushing touchdown as well. Olsen and Benjamin are both starters regardless of matchup but Whitaker is risky. The Vikes have done well versus the run and the split between he and Artis-Payne is uncertain.

I like the chance for a defensive score here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 1 28 10 5 1 4
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 22 10 9 11 3 5

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