Vikings: 3 keys to a win against Panthers

The Minnesota Vikings (4-6) host the Carolina Panthers (4-7) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Here’s a look at three things the Vikings need to do to pick up a victory.

1. Put pressure on Teddy B.

Former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has put together a solid season with Carolina but like most quarterbacks, he’s at his best with a clean pocket.

Bridgewater has a 98.7 QB Rating this season and has only been intercepted seven times. He’s thrown touchdown passes in eight of his 10 starts this season and in the two he did not have a TD pass, he was under a lot of pressure. In an October 18 loss to the Bears, Bridgewater was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. In a September 20 loss to Tampa Bay, Bridgewater was sacked five times and again threw two interceptions while failing to throw a touchdown pass.

Unfortunately the Vikings have not gotten to the quarterback much this season. They only have 19 sacks in 2020 and only got to Andy Dalton once last week.

2. Keep Panthers running backs out of the passing game

The Vikings catch a break this week with Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey ruled out with a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean Carolina is without weapons in the backfield.

Mike Davis will carry the load for Carolina has been a good job filling in for McCaffrey who’s missed eight games due to injury this season. Davis is a big-time threat catching the ball out of the backfield. He has 49 receptions for 305 yards and two touchdowns this season. He’s caught at least eight passes three different times in 2020.

3. Jefferson’s time to shine

Justin Jefferson has enjoyed a nearly flawless rookie campaign for the Vikings but he did have one major mistake in last week’s loss to Dallas. With the Vikings trying to put together a last minute drive to possibly tie or win the game, Jefferson dropped a pass which could have been a big gainer in the 4th quarter.

It’s hard to focus too much on that one play since Jefferson has performed so well in 2020. Jefferson has caught 45 passes for 848 yards and four touchdowns this season and he’ll need to be a playmaker on Sunday.

Tight end Irv Smith Jr. has been ruled out with an injury and Adam Thielen is not expected to play after landing on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week. That should mean plenty of targets for Jefferson.