The Carolina Panthers’ schedule shows that the Minnesota Vikings will be visiting Bank of America Stadium during Week 3 of the 2016 NFL Season, but there’s no way the team could’ve predicted the other news that is happening in the city of Charlotte this week.
The entire city is in a state of unrest after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson. Protesters have taken to the streets in Charlotte the last couple of days and done extensive property damage to local businesses while looting locations such as Wal-Mart and the Charlotte Hornets team store at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Fox 46 Charlotte reported earlier on Thursday that the NFL, Panthers, and Vikings were discussing possibly moving the game to another location. It has since been announced that the league is planning to keep the game in Charlotte as scheduled, but will continue to monitor the situation.
— WGXA (@WGXAnews) September 22, 2016
A football game seems like the least important thing for the city of Charlotte at the moment, but perhaps the Panthers will be able to help pull the city together. Either way, it has to be tough to prepare for the 2-0 Minnesota Vikings when there is so much going on in the streets outside the Bank of America Stadium.
The Carolina Panthers are 1-1 to this point in their 2016 schedule as they lost 21-20 during Week 1 to the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, but rebounded to take down the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, 46-27. The team has yet to play like it’s capable but is a Graham-Gano-missed field goal away from being 2-0.
The Vikings enter this heavyweight showdown with victories over the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers in their first two games of the 2016 NFL Season. Unfortunately, for Minnesota, the team has lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and starting left tackle Matt Kalil for the season and running back Adrian Peterson for at least the next couple of months. There will be a lot of pressure on Sam Bradford and the defense the rest of the year.
Let’s get to some bold predictions for this major NFC matchup.
1. James Bradberry Will Shut Down Stefon Diggs
This guy allowed a 0.0 passer rating, when his area was targeted: James Bradberry. pic.twitter.com/XENO84WL3L
— bob (@ChickenNGreens) September 19, 2016
Diggs leads the NFL in receiving yards with 285 yards and is second in the league with 16 receptions. He’s coming off of a game against the Packers where he caught nine balls for 182 yards and a touchdown and is likely licking his chops as he gets a matchup with a rookie corner out of Samford in Week 3. Unfortunately, for Diggs, that rookie corner is James Bradberry, who was Pro Football Focus’s top-rated corner in Week 2 as he only allowed one catch for six yards on seven targets. Look for Diggs to have a tough time on Sunday.
2. Vikings Will Gain Over 100 Yards Rushing
The Vikings are last in the NFL in rush offense as they have averaged a measly 47.5 rushing yards per game this season. The offensive line has been one of the worst run-blocking units in the NFL and Peterson largely struggled to get back to the line of scrimmage on a number of occasions. The good news for the Vikings is that the Panthers’ weakness on defense is stopping the run which means Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata could easily amass 100 yards combined.
3. Panthers Won’t Reach 100 Yards Rushing
Carolina finished second in the NFL in 2015 with 142.6 rushing yards per game and currently lead the NFL in 2016 as the team has averaged a whopping 166.5 yards on the ground through two games. That being said, the Vikings have always been one of the stingiest run defenses in the league, and this year is no different as they’re only allowing 73.5 yards rushing through two games.
4. Carolina Will Hold Sam Bradford Under 200 Yards Passing
During his first start for his new team last week, Bradford threw for 286 yards and completed 71 percent of his passes. Don’t expect that same success against the Panthers as Carolina is one of the toughest teams in the NFL to throw on. Look for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to send heavy pressure any time the Vikings drop back to pass.
5. Panthers Win A Defensive Battle
These two teams boast two of the top seven defenses in the NFL through two weeks. Expect a low-scoring, field-position battle that with the team that wins the turnover battle emerging victorious. The Carolina Panthers’ defense has forced five turnovers to the Minnesota Vikings’ one so we’ll give the edge to the home team, 17-13, as the team improves to 2-1 on their 2016 schedule.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]