The Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings are set to square off this Sunday. Carolina enters the contest coming off its second win of the season over the Washington Redskins. Minnesota, on the other hand, lost to the Green Bay Packers in a close game where rookie Christian Ponder made his debut.
It's been a busy week for the Vikings, who released wide receiver Bernard Berrian and suspended cornerback Chris Cook indefinitely. Minnesota will hope to put away its off-the-field distractions when it travels to Carolina, while the Panthers will hope to build off last weekend's win.
Here's a look at the upcoming game and three matchups to keep an eye on.
It may not be getting all of the headlines, but this matchup is between two of the best in the game at their respective positions. Gross is a premiere left tackle and has been for a long time, while Allen has been the best pass-rusher in the NFL this season, already compiling 11.5 sacks.
Brian Robison has been playing well for the Vikings so it wouldn't be surprising to see Gross handle Allen by himself at times on Sunday. What makes Allen so special is not only his ability to rush the passer but his ability to also stop the run.
For the Panthers to win Gross is going to have to keep Allen from getting too many shots on Newton throughout the afternoon.
The Minnesota secondary is banged up and depleted right now, which means Newton has an opportunity to put up big numbers. Carolina currently boasts the fifth-best passing game in the NFL behind the strong play of Newton and wide receiver Steve Smith.
The Vikings have a strong run-defense, but have failed miserably against opposing quarterbacks. As of now the Vikings are giving up close to 275 yards through the air and will have their hands full against the Panthers.
Newton has put together a fine rookie season and is coming off the best game of his young career. It will be vital for him to avoid turning the ball over in a game that figures to be high-scoring.
The Panthers have the unfortunate task of trying to stop the best running back the NFL has seen in a long time. Peterson has the Vikings' rushing attack in the top five once again, and he is coming off his best game of the season in which he ran for 175 yards on just 24 carries.
Meanwhile, the Panthers have been terrible against the run this season. The Panthers are 29th in the NFL against the run and get little-to-no push from their defensive tackles. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are a formidable duo on the outside, but teams are just punishing Carolina up the gut.
The Vikings' game plan should be to eat up as much clock as possible with AP on the ground in order to keep the ball out of Newton's hands.