As the Minnesota Vikings plan their first week without RB Adrian Peterson, they’ll be up against the defending NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton has picked up where he left off last season, throwing for five touchdowns with a 92.7 quarterback rating so far in the 2016 season.
The Vikings come to Carolina sporting an undefeated record through the first two weeks, having defeated Tennessee in Week 1 and the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.
Like the Vikings, the Panthers are without their starting running back for the first time this season. Jonathan Stewart suffered a hamstring injuring in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers and was replaced by backup Fozzy Whittaker, who proceeded to rush for 100 yards in the 46-27 victory. With key injuries to each team’s primary runners, this matchup will likely come down to quarterbacks and team defense.
Through the first two weeks, the Vikings seem to have the edge defensively, ranking fifth best in points conceded per game (15) and fifth in yards against per game (289.5) versus Carolina’s (1-1) 24 points and 304.5 yards against per game.
Although Cam Newton is the more fear-inducing of the two quarterbacks, the Panthers cannot underestimate the Vikings’ Sam Bradford. After being traded eight days before the beginning of regular season from Philadelphia, Bradford led the Vikes to victory over their NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers, 17-14.