The Vikings have experienced many ups and downs under the Mike Tice Administration. Unfortunately, with the exception of a road playoff win against the Packers last year, very few of the ups for the Vikings have been away from the Metrodome.
When they face the Panthers today, they will be an 8-point underdog – one of the largest point-spread underdogs the Vikings have been in years. Just about every expert and self-proclaimed genuis has picked the Panthers to not only win, but cover the gaudy point spread.
It's become a source of frustration for Tice, because he just can't figure out what switch will turn on the light and make positive change for the team.
"These guys grew up playing football outside on grass," Tice said. "They practice every day on grass. I don't know if that is the concern we have about winning on the road. I think it's more of a mentality."
If it is, it's a mentality that will have to change in a hurry. The Vikings have already been on the brink of disaster this season and need to win on the road to prove that they are a legitimate playoff contender. Taking out the Panthers – one of the few NFC teams that is capable of playing at the highest level on both sides of the ball – would go a long way to putting that mentality to bed.
* VU would like to remind Vikings fans that they can help out needy families during the weeks leading up to the holiday season. The best part? It's free and takes just seconds a day. Campbell's Chunky Soup is an official sponsor of the NFL and, as such, the company annually conducts a promotion called Click for Cans. Fans can click on the helmet of their favorite team and for each click a team gets, Campbell's donates one can of Chunky Soup to foodshelves in the area designated for each team – in the case of the Vikings, that is Minnesota and the Dakotas. To date, more than 350,000 cans of soup have been tallied by fans. Of that total, 110,000 cans have been clicked by Packer fans. The Vikings were in ninth place as of midnight Saturday with 8,100 cans. To take part, simply go to www.chunky.com and click on the "Click for Cans" icon. Once there, the page can be bookmarked and returned to once a day – the company limits the number of clicks to one per day per computer. Whether you're a Vikings fan in Minnesota or one in Georgia, click for your favorite team or the team closest to where you live. It all goes to a good cause and will give some hungry kids a meal they might not otherwise have had.
* Punter Chris Kluwe is No. 2 among punters with a 46.9 yard gross average and No. 4 in net average at 40.2 yards. It wasn't long ago that if Darren Bennett his a single 40-yard punt in a game, fans were surprised and happy.
* Panthers wide receiver Keary Colbert and RB DeShaun Foster are both listed as questionable for today's game (50-50 that they will play), but VU has been told both players practiced without setback on Friday and will play.
* No Vikings player has more than two touchdowns this year. The Panthers have two players – WR Steve Smith and RB Stephen Davis – who each have seven TDs.
* The teams are strikingly similar on offense, with the Vikings ranked 26th for rushing, while the Panthers are 24th. In the passing game, the Vikings are No. 11 and the Panthers are tied at No. 15. Overall, the Vikings offense is rated 22nd – just ahead of the Panthers at No. 23.
* The similarities end on defense. The Panthers have the third-rated run defense, while the Vikings are 30th. But, the Vikings are 15th vs. the pass, while the Panthers are struggling at No. 27. Overall, Carolina is No. 19 on total defense, while the Vikings are 25th.
* Daunte Culpepper has seven interceptions in his last two games vs. the Panthers.
* Three of Jake Delhomme's interceptions this year have been returned for touchdowns.
* The Vikings offense has just three plays of 30 yards or more this season.
* The ratings for the Vikings-Packers game were a little disappointing considering the rivalry. While the numbers were still huge – a 32.1 rating and 67 share percentage of all TVs on at the time were tuned in – but the rating number was less than that of the Saints game and the share was lower than the Bucs game.
* In three road games this year, the Vikings have been outscored 95-21 – with 14 of those points coming on meaningless touchdowns in the game's final few minutes. In those games, Culpepper has one TD, nine interceptions and a QB rating of 47.7.
* The Panthers have scored touchdowns on all but four of their 18 Red Zone possessions this season.
* Today's game will be the sixth meeting all time between the teams, but it will be the first that hasn't been played at the Metrodome.
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