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Panthers' Keys to the Game vs Vikings

What the Panthers need to do in order to get a win on Sunday over Minnesota.

The Carolina Panthers look to get back on track on Sunday and put their mini two-game skid to an end when they take on the Minnesota Vikings (2-3) at Bank of America Stadium.

As we do every Friday, we break down what the Panthers need to do to earn a victory on Sunday.

Move the sticks, sustain drives

The Vikings have one of the best third down defenses in the league. On the other hand, the Panthers are only converting on third down 38% of the time. Sacks and negative plays have been getting Carolina behind the sticks and they can't afford to do that on Sunday if they want to walk away with a W. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have combined for 10 sacks on the year, so they need to stay out of obvious pass rush situations as much as humanly possible.

3rd quarter scoring

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The Panthers have a big problem when it comes to getting off to a hot start offensively in the 2nd half. In four of the team's five games, the Panthers have been held scoreless in the third quarter. The only score they have had in the third quarter so far was a touchdown that came in week three against the Houston Texans. Sure, not having Christian McCaffrey available doesn't help but that's no excuse for turnovers, poor protection, and a lack of execution. 

Sam Goody

Look, it's Friday and my dad-like puns are starting to surface late in the week. I can't help it. Seriously though, Sam Darnold has turned the ball over five times in the past two weeks which has led to two straight losses. A portion of the fan base is already starting to give up on the 24-year old signal-caller after just five games in a Panther uniform. To me, it's a little premature. This is a two-year tryout window for Darnold in Carolina. You have to be willing to give it time. That said, Darnold has to be better and he understands that. He can't revert back to the bad habits that he had in New York where he folded when under pressure or at the first sign of adversity. If he throws two more picks this week, it's going to be hard for Carolina to stay in this game, even with a top-notch defense. If the Sam Darnold from the first three weeks shows up, Sweet Carolina will be playing at the end of the game with the stands full of fans celebrating a Panthers win.

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