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Open Thread, Panthers at Vikings

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Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Vikings open up their slate of home games in about 12 hours against the team that was considered the pre-season NFC favorite by most of the experts out there, the Carolina Panthers. However, Carolina looked extremely mortal last weekend as they were pasted by the Atlanta Falcons by the score of 20-6. Much of Carolina's offensive ineptitude was attributed to the absence of #89, WR Steve Smith. Frankly, Jake Delhomme looked lost without Smith in the lineup last week.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Smith did not even make the trip to Minneapolis and, obviously, won't be playing in tomorrow's game. Advantage: Vikings.

The Panthers are also in the process of revamping their offensive line, having lost starting LT Travelle Wharton for the season last week. RT Jordan Gross moves to the LT spot, a position he's struggled at playing in the past. Carolina's starting center, Jeff Hartwig, is listed as questionable. This means that the Vikings' front four should be living in the Carolina backfield this afternoon. Advantage: Vikings.

I said this a few days ago, and I'll say it again. . .with no Steve Smith to contend with, I'm not sure how the Vikings lose this game. I'm not saying they can't find a WAY to lose. . .because, after all, these ARE the Vikings. . .but I'll be surprised and disappointed if we're not 2-0 heading into the matchup with the Bears next Sunday.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Panthers 13