What the Vikings have to do to win

The Vikings will be attempting to not only end Carolina's three-game winning streak but also its two-game win streak against NFC North opponents. The Panthers beat the Packers at home and won their final game before last Sunday's bye, edging Detroit by one point at Ford Field.

Carolina has the NFL's 19th-ranked offense and 23rd-ranked defense so neither unit should strike fear into the heart of the Vikings.

What the Vikings really need to do is worry about their own performance, especially in the opening half. Minnesota has been outscored 98-34 in the opening two quarters this season, including 77-10 in the second quarter.

A tendency to panic when something goes wrong on the road must be overcome if the Vikings are going to win at Bank of America Stadium.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper also must prove that his second-half performance last Sunday wasn't a fluke and is a sign of things to come. After completing six of eight passes for 52 yards with no interceptions, Culpepper came out of the locker room and directed five scoring drives.

Culpepper was helped by the blocking of an offensive line that appeared to come together and give him better protection over the final two quarters. The line will have to continue to be stout against a Carolina pass rush that is ranked third in the league. It also must avoid the penalties that plagued it in the Vikings' last road game, against Chicago.

Defensively, the Vikings must hope a 3-4 scheme that looked serviceable to good against the Bears and Packers is enough to contain Carolina. The Panthers' 24th-ranked rushing attack is averaging only 3.1 yards per carry and top backup running back DeShaun Foster continues to nurse a bruised knee. If Foster doesn't play the Vikings will have to stop veteran running back Stephen Davis.

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