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Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings: First Quarter Open Thread

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports


Date: 30 November 2014
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Time: 12:00 PM Central Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium
DirecTV Ch 712
Radio: Vikings Radio Network
XM Ch 232
Sirius Ch 138
TV Announcers: Chris Myers
Ronde Barber
Know Thy Foe: Cat Scratch Reader
Weather: 14 degrees, Winds from NW at 15 MPH (Wind Chill -2), 0% chance of precip
Line: Minnesota -2.5, Over/Under 42 (Thanks to the SB Nation Odds page)
Chris' Prediction: Vikings 20, Panthers 16
Final Score: Vikings 31, Panthers 13

Here are the ground rules for the Game Threads:

-Thou shalt not link illegal feeds of today's game, or I shall kick thy arse to the curb until the game is over. Do not promote then, do not mention them, do not even hint at them. Thou hast been warned.

-Thou shalt keep the GIFs out of the Game Threads. These things tend to bog down enough as it is due to the number of comments. We don't need it to potentially be any worse. If we get a GIF of a big Vikings' play or something, we will drop it in here.

-Thou shalt make an attempt to keep the swearing to a minimum. Understandable that it will slip occasionally, but do try to limit it. If you really feel the need to curse, use the spoiler tags to keep it covered up. We'll get the sentiment.

-Thou shalt not feed the trolls. Rather, thou shall simply point them out, and they shall be banished to the fires of Mordor. Or Wisconsin. Whichever we feel is more harsh at the time.

-Thou shalt not engage in racist, sexist, or other such insulting rhetoric. Somebody disagreeing with you does not make them racist or sexist. It means they disagree with you. Talk it out like adults.

-Thou shalt not bait the fans of other teams into trolling.

-Basically, thou shalt not be a jackwagon in the game thread.

It looks like it's going to be a chilly one in the Twin Cities this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, with wind chills pushing the temperature below zero for today's contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers.

So, what do the Vikings have to do to get back onto the winning track in front of the home folks in this one?

1) Protect Teddy Bridgewater - This is going to be a much bigger deal today, with Mike Harris getting the start for the IR'd Phil Loadholt and Matt Kalil. . .well, being Matt Kalil. This is definitely not the same Panthers' defense that stomped a mudhole in the Vikings last year at the Metrodome, and there are plays to be made if Bridgewater has the time to make them. On his side, Bridgewater needs to come out calm and composed. . .and significantly more accurate early on in games than he has been so far this season. If the Vikings can get things going early, the Panthers might not have the desire to put up much of a fight.

2) Contain Cam Newton - The Panthers' star quarterback hasn't been very good this season, and at least some of that owes to some injuries he's battling through. He's been even worse when he's been under pressure, and with the Carolina offensive line in shambles, getting to Newton is going to be a key today. He still has very good mobility, which means that the Vikings need to put together the kind of "smart rush" that Mike Zimmer has preached all season and limit Newton's lanes for escape. If the Vikings can keep Cam in the pocket, guys like Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, and Brian Robison should really be able to tee off.

3) Protect the football - Even though the Minnesota defense has been playing well this season, the offense can not afford to give the Panthers extra opportunities to put up points. The weather forecast for today isn't exactly conducive to a shootout or anything (although stranger things have happened), which means that taking care of the football is going to be at a premium today. If the Vikings can keep themselves from turning the ball over too much, they should have the ability to win this one.

With a 4-7 record and the playoffs nothing more than a pipe dream, the rest of the year is going to be about development. . .both for a lot of the team's younger players and developing continuity on both sides of the football. Hopefully the Minnesota Vikings can put things together over the final five weeks of the year and really build themselves some momentum going into next season.

Let's hope that today will see the Vikings match last year's win total against a team that embarrassed them last season.