I’d like to think that the Panthers can find a way to pull out the win on the road but this is going to be a major challenge for the defense to stop Dalvin Cook. To win this game, they have to limit Cook to under 100 rushing yards and they need to convert on 3rd downs offensively. Carolina has had trouble stopping the run all season long and Minnesota has a pretty solid 3rd down defense. Carolina will have the lead in the fourth quarter but won’t be able to hold on in the end.
Jason Hewitt: Panthers 30, Vikings 23
Dalvin Cook is a monster and I fully expect him to have a fantastic day on the ground. Carolina’s defense will probably give up more than a few big plays because of him. However, I believe that the Panthers’ offense can make even more big plays. The Vikings’ defense is arguably just as bad as Carolina’s. The difference here is that the Panthers have more playmakers. Adam Thielen is also likely to be out, so that makes Minnesota’s chances of winning even slimmer. It should be a close game, but Carolina has too much on offense (with or without McCaffrey) for the Vikings to handle.
Josh Altorfer: Panthers 28, Vikings 20
I think this game will be won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. I trust Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers more than Kirk Cousins and Co. in the turnover category. I’m also looking for Carolina to get back to the way it utilized Mike Davis earlier in the season. Get him involved on outside runs and in the passing game to keep the chains moving and drain the clock.
What to watch for: Will Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen suit up for Week 12? The Pro Bowler was moved to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, though it’s unclear whether he tested positive for the coronavirus or was deemed a close contact, the latter of which would increase the likelihood of him playing against Carolina. Thielen is coming off his best game of the season (8 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs) and leads the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns. He would be sorely missed if he’s unavailable on Sunday. — Courtney Cronin
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. — David Newton
Stat to know: Vikings running back Dalvin Cook’s 13 rushing touchdowns this season are tied for the most in a team’s first 10 games in the past 10 seasons (Todd Gurley in 2018). The last player with 14-plus through 11 games was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 (21).
Injuries: Panthers | Vikings
What to know for fantasy: After going over 17.5 fantasy points in four of five games to open the season, Panthers receiver Robby Anderson has been held under 15.5 in every game since. See Week 12 rankings.
Betting nugget: All five Minnesota home games have gone over the total this season. Read more.
Newton’s pick: Vikings 27, Panthers 24
Cronin’s pick: Vikings 26, Panthers 24
FPI prediction: MIN, 68.9% (by an average of 6.6 points)
The Panthers come into Sunday’s game with a 4-7 record, but have a little more optimism in their step. Carolina is coming off a shutout victory over Detroit and will get Teddy Bridgewater back under center in what is a homecoming for the former Vikings’ first-round pick. Even in the midst of a rebuild, the Panthers appear to be on the right track in the first season for Matt Rhule.
Carolina should be a tough test for the Vikings, who dropped a big matchup with the Cowboys last weekend. Although they’ve been able to ride Dalvin Cook to victory in recent weeks, their defense has had ups and downs, picking up three wins after the bye but allowing 400 or more yards in three of their past four games.
In this article, we’ll make our predictions for what could go down on Sunday and whether the Vikings can get a much needed-win to keep their playoff hopes alive.