Sunday, September 21, 2008

Panthers-Vikes Primer

Just a couple hours shy of kickoff in the Metrodome, so here are a couple thoughts leading into the Panthers-Vikings matchup.

CAR offense v. MIN defense
The Panthers get Steve Smith back today, and that means their most dangerous home run threat will be on the field. In theory, this should make the Panther ground attack more of a problem for the Vikes, but you must remember, Minnesota has one of the better defensive fronts in the league. Smith will command some attention, drawing some multiple bodies in coverage. The onus is on the offensive line to get it done at the point of attack. If the O-line can win the battles up front,. the Panthers will be successful today. This, however, is no guarantee. Advantage-push

MIN offense v. CAR defense
Minnesota may be without Adrian Peterson, and even he does play, all reports out of the north say Peterson won't be 100% (hamstring). That would be a good thing for Carolina, considering the Vikes also benched Tavaris Jackson in favor of Gus Frerotte. Frerotte is more than capable as a back-up, but you have to consider some rust factoring in with him starting for the first time in a while. The indoor nature of this game doesn't lend too much of an advantage to either team--no weather conditions, an artificial surface. Speed is speed for both teams. Advantage-push

Special Teams
As mentioned above--both teams have capable kickers, weather not a factor. The last time these teams met in Minnesota, the Panthers tried a goofy lateral from Chris Gamble on a punt return that went for a fumble, and eventually a Minnesota win. Don't look for that today. Hard to give an edge one way or the other. Truth be told, I haven't seen enough of the Vikings in return situations to offer a solid opinion on them, so....advantage-push

The Panthers have the edge here, given that they are running a team with confidence, while the Vikings will be facing the possibility of going 0-3 with 2 losses coming at home. Minnesota will be the desperate team in this one, so Carolina will have to be ready for that (with the Vikings trying things they might not normally try), but so far, what I have seen of the Panthers is that they will be. Advantage-Carolina

I'll go with Carolina to move to 3-0 by a final score of 24-13.

As for college football on Saturday, hats off to Tom O'Brien and NC State for pulling off the upset and beating ECU on Saturday. NC State proved that rivalry games mean something, especially when you go in short-handed with personnel, and simply "man up," and play hard. Probably could question some coaching decisions by ECU, but credit NC State for capitalizing on mistakes, and getting it done.

Tough break for UNC to fall short to Virginia Tech, but losing T.J. Yates didn't help matters,m especially with the way Tech responded to being down, and not giving up.

And, while not a thriller, props to Jim Grobe and Wake Forest for beating FSU for the 3rd straight year. 12-3 doesn't stir up thoughts of a well played game, but a road win in the ACC is big, no matter who it's against. Wake proved they can win ugly ones too, and that can be big for them down the road.

Enjoy the games, and if you are like me, you are recording the Ryder Cup matches, as the Americans lead 9-7 heading into singles matches today. USA needs 5.5 points to win the Cup, while Europe need 7 to retain it. Would have loved to see Boo Weekley go head-to-head with Lee Westwood, but that won't happen. Westy faces Ben Curtis, while Weekley drew Oliver Wilson. Don't be shocked to see the galleries get rowdy on Sunday, as having a chance to win back the Cup (a legit chance) should whip the fans into a frenzy. I love the Ryder Cup matches, because there are no sponsor dollars on display, no big prize money on the line. It's playing for love of country, or in this case, continent. It means so much, that these guys grind their guts out, just to contribute to their team. Great stuff.

Mike Solarte

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