Minnesota travels to Carolina in Week 3 in what will be a matchup of two of the NFL’s top 10 defenses. Minnesota enters at 2-0, sitting alone atop the NFC North. Carolina is 1-1 and is in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC South. Carolina is a 7 point favorite and it was annouNCed Wednesday that Adrian Peterson will miss 3-4 months.
Cam Newton has played well, completing 57.5% of his passes for 547 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also been his normal self rushing the ball. Newton has 17 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown.
Newton has found having Kelvin Benjamin back from injury to be very rewarding early this season. Benjamin leads the team with 13 receptions and 199 yards. Three of those receptions have gone for scores as well. Greg Olsen isn’t far behind, either. He has 12 receptions, 195 yards and one touchdown. This duo is going to be very difficult to stop as the season goes on for anyone the Panthers face.
Jonathan Stewart has been hampered by injuries and has been limited as a result. He has 20 carries for 73 yards, but Newton’s threat as a runner significantly diminishes the challenge this presents to Carolina. Fozzy Whittaker has been difficult to slow down as well. He has GAined 113 yards on 19 attempts through two Games.
Minnesota has already been through a lot this season. First, in the preseason, it was Teddy Bridgewater going down with an injury. The Vikings brought Sam Bradford in via trade to help out. They’ve started two different quarterbacks in each of their two Games. Adrian Peterson went down with a torn meniscus in Week 2. Despite all of this, Minnesota has still found a way to win each of its first two Games.
Bradford was great a week ago in Minnesota’s 17-14 win over division rival Green Bay. He went 22-of-31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Bradford looked in syNC and will look to guide the Vikings to another division title.
As unproductive as Peterson has been, Stefon Diggs has been just as remarkable. He has busted out of the GAte to the tune of 16 receptions for 285 yards and one touchdown — you know, the one scored late to help seal last week’s win over Green Bay. Diggs looks like a true No. 1 option — something I’m not sure anyone could envision when he two severe leg injuries while at Maryland.
Prediction: Carolina’s defense ought to be able to contain Bradford and company. Look for Newton and his weapons to be a little too much for Minnesota. SCore: Panthers 28 Vikings 17