Time to find out if the Vikings are going to keep their slim playoff hopes alive for a while longer.
If they're able to defeat the Panthers, they'll have a clear path to getting back to .500 next week. But if they slip up at home for a second straight Sunday, they'll be 4-7 and functionally eliminated from the playoff picture.
This should be a fun one. Of course, the biggest storyline is the return of Teddy Bridgewater to Minnesota as a starting quarterback. He'll look to take down his old team by spreading the ball out to a number of talented weapons. As we know, Bridgewater is going to try to get the ball out quickly to avoid pressure.
On the other side of the ball, it'll be interesting to see what the Vikings offense looks like without Irv Smith Jr. and Adam Thielen. Will this be a huge day for Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson? Will someone else step up? The Vikings need Kirk Cousins to continue playing at a high level, even without his top target in Thielen. Minnesota's offensive line needs to be wary of Brian Burns, who has been one of the league's most dominant edge rushers in 2020.
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Starting again this week: right guard Brett Jones and long snapper Andrew DePaola. Rookie returner K.J. Osborn is inactive, meaning it'll likely be Ameer Abdullah and Chad Beebe returning kicks and punts, respectively. Tajae Sharpe is active and could factor into the picture at wide receiver.
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Final Score: Vikings 28, Panthers 27
Joey Slye's 54-yard field goal went wide left as time expired and the Vikings somehow escape with the win.
Vikings 28, Panthers 27
0:46 – The Vikings just took the lead because this game is insane. Chad Beebe redeems himself for the muffed punt by scoring his first NFL touchdown. Panthers are going to have 46 seconds to go for a game-winning field goal.
Panthers 27, Vikings 21
1:51 – The Vikings' defense steps up again and holds the Panthers to a field goal on a short field. Somehow, this game still isn't over.
2:18 – Unreal. The Vikings muff the punt with a chance to get the ball back and go tie the game. That's the story of their season right there. Chad Beebe can't do that in that situation.
Panthers 24, Vikings 21
5:31 – The Vikings aren't dead just yet. Justin Jefferson scores his second touchdown of the afternoon, Bisi Johnson catches the two-point conversion, and this is a three-point game.
Panthers 24, Vikings 13
11:31 – The Panthers have made this a two-score game again and are close to sealing a victory. They kicked a 40-yard field goal. Vikings probably need to put up seven points on this ensuing possession to stay alive.
Panthers 21, Vikings 13
14:47 – The Vikings can't get the job done in the red zone and are forced to kick a short field goal.
5:21 – Hey, there's a big play from the Vikings on special teams. DJ Wonnum blocks the Panthers' short field goal to keep the deficit at 11.
Panthers 21, Vikings 10
13:51 – Unbelievable. The very next play after the Panthers' defensive touchdown, it happened again. Dalvin Cook fumbles and Jeremy Chinn returns it for a TD. Two straight plays resulting in a Panthers defensive TD. Perhaps more importantly, Cook limped off the field and appears to be banged up.
Panthers 14, Vikings 10
14:01 – Disaster for the Vikings on their opening possession of the second half. Kirk Cousins gets hit for a sack, fumbles the ball, and Panthers rookie Jeremy Chinn runs it in with ease.
Vikings 10, Panthers 7
0:00 – Dan Bailey drills a 53-yard field goal as time expires to give the Vikings the lead heading into halftime.
Vikings 7, Panthers 7
1:52 – The Vikings' defense just broke down completely. They send pressure but leave Robby Anderson wide open for an easy catch and walk-in touchdown of 41 yards.
11:44 – Eric Kendricks strikes again. The Vikings' star middle linebacker picks off his old teammate Bridgewater for his third interception in the past four games. That's a huge play for this Vikings defense.
15:00 – The Vikings' run defense is still an issue. They gave up 180 yards to the Cowboys last week and have already surrendered 60 yards to the Panthers on just seven carries. Carolina is driving.
2:10 – The teams trade punts following the Vikings' touchdown. Teddy Bridgewater is just 1 for 6 for 4 yards against his old team through two drives.
Vikings 7, Panthers 0
5:34 – The Vikings get things started with a Justin Jefferson touchdown. After forcing a quick Panthers punt, Minnesota marched down the field behind Dalvin Cook and a couple nice plays from Kirk Cousins. They capped off the drive with an easy pitch and catch to Jefferson for a 12-yard score.