Carolina Panthers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Steve Byrnes, Bill Maas
7th meeting. Series tied 3-3. The Panthers have won the last three meetings between the teams, including a 38-13 rout of the Vikings last year. In that game, wide receiver Steve Smith caught 11 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown to shut up trash-talking Fred Smoot and running back Stephen Davis ran for two more scores. Jake Delhomme threw for three touchdowns and 341 yards, the second-highest total of his career, while posting a quarterback rating of 141.1. The Panthers led that game 24-0 at halftime.
Panthers: offense 29th (28th rush, 23rd pass); defense 28th (32nd rush, 7th pass).
Vikings: offense 15th (22nd rush, 12th pass); defense 11th (14th rush, 11th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Panthers are in desperate need of a strong start mentally. They're coming off a lopsided home loss to Atlanta, have had to juggle an injury-plagued offensive line and while WR Steve Smith's hamstring will keep him out another week. If Carolina falls behind, the running game becomes a non-factor and Minnesota can attack the line, which will be minus injured LT Travelle Wharton and possibly C Justin Hartwig. The defense is also banged up, with MLB Dan Morgan out. However, the secondary remains strong and the Vikings will attempt to establish the ground game early to avoid making mistakes against CBs Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas.
Panthers: Smith caught 11 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota last season. ... Have won six of their past seven road games.
Vikings: Have not been shut out in an NFL-high 237 consecutive games. ... S Darren Sharper's 40 interceptions since 2000 leads the NFL.
Vikings-Panthers Game Snapshot
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