Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys that snapped their three-game winning streak, the Vikings have a chance to right the ship this week at U.S. Bank Stadium. If they're able to beat the Panthers, their slim playoff hopes would remain alive and they'd head into Week 13 with a clear path to being back at .500.
However, it's not going to be easy. Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers have plenty of weapons on offense and could turn this game into a shootout. The former Vikings quarterback will lean on Mike Davis, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel as he attempts to defeat his old team. The Panthers have struggled on defense prior to shutting out the Lions last week, but the Vikings' offense is a lot less fearsome without Adam Thielen.
Let's start with my prediction and then see what the national experts think.
Will's pick: Panthers 27, Vikings 24
This may seem like an overreaction to one game, but I think Teddy Bridgewater is going to come to Minnesota and officially put the nail in the coffin when it comes to his former team's playoff hopes. Bridgewater gets the ball out quickly and has a trio of impressive receivers at his disposal. On the other side of the ball, Brian Burns should wreak havoc on Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, who are without Irv Smith Jr. and Adam Thielen. It feels like a recipe for a fifth loss in six home games.
Last game's pick: Vikings 35, Cowboys 24. Season record: 4-6
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Panthers 28, Vikings 27
These teams are evenly matched, with efficient offenses doing their best to cover up holes defensively (especially rushing the passer). The status of Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey makes a difference here, but I like that Carolina's coaching staff puts Teddy Two Gloves in more advantageous situations than Kirk Cousins by throwing more on early downs. In this Thanksgiving week, Teddy winning in Minnesota makes me sentimental.
Mike Florio, PFT: Vikings 28, Panthers 23
Minnesota's window is closing. It won't slam shut just yet.
Michael David Smith, PFT: Vikings 30, Panthers 13
The Panthers defense is coming off a shutout of the Lions, but the Vikings offense should put up plenty of points on Sunday.
Courtney Cronin, ESPN Vikings Reporter: Vikings 26, Panthers 24
David Newton, ESPN Panthers Reporter: Vikings 27, Panthers 24
Bold prediction: Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will pass for 300 yards and two touchdowns in his return to Minnesota as a starter for the first time since he suffered a horrific left knee injury during the Vikings' 2016 training camp. Minnesota ranks 26th in the NFL in pass defense, giving up 260.7 yards per game, but has allowed no quarterback to top 300 yards in the past four games and only three all season.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Vikings 27, Panthers 21
The Vikings blew a game last week at home to the Cowboys and now need this game badly to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Panthers should have Teddy Bridgewater back to face his former team. Even so, I think the Vikings will find a way to bounce back with a better showing than last week. Dalvin Cook will have another big day.
Mark Craig, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Vikings 38, Panthers 25
The roller coaster continues. No longer presumed to win the next two games and even their record at 6-6, the Vikings will, naturally, do just that. The offense has the ability to outscore old friend Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker or anybody else the Panthers put at quarterback.
Sam Farmer, LA Times: Vikings 28, Panthers 23
The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak with a good win over Detroit, but they’re still battered. Still, their defense is awful, and Dalvin Cook should have a big day. Will Adam Thielen play?
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Vikings 31, Panthers 24
The Vikings' defense put them in a tough spot again in the loss to the Cowboys. They need to get ahead of the game script and blast Dalvin Cook to a big lead. The Panthers' run defense is terrible, so you can bet Cook will be fed all day to compensate for the Dallas experience. Teddy Bridgewater, if he returns from his knee injury as expected, has a nice chance for a good "revenge" game, but Cook's constant chunk running will put this game out of reach in the end.
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