Inside the Numbers: Panthers at Vikings

See who has the advantage in this week 12 matchup
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Week 12

Carolina Panthers (4-7) at Minnesota Vikings (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

TV: FOX

U.S. Bank Stadium

When the Panthers have the ball

Panthers OffenseStatsVikings Defense

353.1 (19th)

Total YPG/Yards Allowed

382.8 (22nd)

106.4 (20th)

Rushing YPG/Allowed

122.1 (22nd)

4.24 (T-15th)

Rushing Yards Per Att/Allowed

4.30 (12th)

246.7 (17th)

Passing YPG/Allowed

260.7 (26th)

22 (17th)

Sacks Allowed/Sacks

19 (T-19th)

40.5 (21st)

3rd Down Efficiency 

36.2 (4th)

23 (21st)

Points Per Game/Allowed

27.8 (27th)

These two units are fairly equal. Minnesota's defense doesn't cause a lot of disruption in the pocket, but Carolina's offensive line is not very great in pass protection - something has to give. Since Christian McCaffrey has been out of the lineup, the Panthers have had a tough time running the ball with efficiency. At the same time, Minnesota can't stop the run. Again, something has to give. The one area where Carolina can exploit is in the passing game. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to play this week and even without McCaffrey, he still has a ton of weapons. I don't see the Vikings being able to stop DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson. They can maybe slow one down, but not all three. If the Panthers can get a decent day out of Mike Davis on the ground, Carolina will win this side of the ball with ease. The one area of concern is third down conversions. The Panthers started off the year very efficient in this category, but have quickly tumbled down the leaderboard and have had a lot of issues converting third downs. As you can see above, Minnesota is one of the better third down defenses in the league, which does not bode well for the Panthers. If Carolina finds themselves in more 3rd down and manageable situations, they should be alright.

Advantage: Panthers offense

When the Vikings have the ball

Vikings OffenseStatsPanthers Defense

387.1 (8th)

Total YPG/Yards Allowed

362.3 (18th)

150.7 (6th)

Rushing YPG/Allowed

116.8 (17th)

5.07 (2nd)

Rushing Yards Per Att/Allowed

4.62 (24th)

236.4 (19th)

Passing YPG/Allowed

245.5 (19th)

19 (13th)

Sacks Allowed/Sacks

16 (25th)

43.3 (14th)

3rd Down Efficiency 

51.8 (31st)

26.4 (T-13th)

Points Per Game/Allowed

24.7 (15th)

Minnesota lives and dies with its running game and can you really blame them when they have a guy like Dalvin Cook? Last week, the Panthers held the Lions to just 40 yards rushing on 17 carries but they were without rookie running back D'Andre Swift, who would have made a big impact on the game. Carolina has really struggled in stopping the run all season long and I don't see them starting to figure things out this week. Cook is one of the best in the game and in my opinion, he can name his rushing total this Sunday and probably get to it. As far as the passing game goes, Kirk Cousins is a serviceable quarterback but is not one that's going to necessarily be the difference in the game. Carolina's young secondary should be able to at least keep their head above water as long as they don't let Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson torch them for big gains. Thielen was placed on the COVID list earlier in the week and his status for the game is still unknown.

It'll be just as important for the Panthers to get off the field on 3rd downs against Minnesota as it will be for their offense to convert on 3rd downs. Aside from last week's shutout win over Detroit, the Panthers have been awful on 3rd down defense this season. The big problem is that they are not winning enough on 1st and 2nd down, which is giving the opposition too many easy 3rd downs. Minnesota is in the middle of the pack on 3rd down conversions, so if Carolina can get them in more 3rd and longs, it gives them a much better chance and it also allows defensive coordinator Phil Snow to dial up more pressure.

Advantage: Vikings offense

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