Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at Carolina Panthers (4-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Curt Menefee, JC Pearson
Sixth meeting. Minnesota leads series, 3-2, but will be making its first regular-season appearance in Carolina. The Vikings, who played at Carolina in a preseason game in 1998, won the first three meetings against the Panthers. Carolina beat the Vikings 21-14 the last time the teams played in 2002.
Vikings: offense 22nd (26th rush, 11th pass); defense 25th (30th rush, 15th pass).
Panthers: offense 23rd (24th rush, 26th pass); defense 19th (3rd rush, 27th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Vikings have been outscored 95-21 in their three road games, so getting through the first half still within striking distance is the first priority.
Minnesota is expected to stick with the 3-4 defense that coordinator Ted Cottrell starting featuring two games ago. DT Pat Williams has benefited most from the switch, and will play a big roll against Carolina, which desperately wants to get its struggling running game going.
Panthers RB Stephen Davis is averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry, although backup DeShaun Foster is expected to return from a knee injury to help carry the load.
The Vikings' running game has been even worse, averaging just 84.5 yards per game and putting too much pressure on QB Daunte Culpepper in long passing situations. With Panthers MLB Dan Morgan battling a shoulder injury, the Vikings might have more success pounding away between the tackles.
Vikings: Have been outscored 77-10 in the second quarter. ... This is their first regular-season game in Carolina.
Panthers: Are 6-2 in their past eight games against the NFC North.
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