NFL Week 8 Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings

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NFL Week 8 Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder (7) hands the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson (28). Peterson is the NFL's leading rusher through Week 7.

The Carolina Panthers (2-5) and Minnesota Vikings (1-6) will face off at Bank of America Stadium at 1 pm ET Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For a game between last-place teams, this matchup is rife with interesting storylines and should produce plenty of offensive fireworks.

Rookie quarterbacks

Cam Newton was selected first overall by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft and the Vikings made Christian Ponder the fourth quarterback taken at No. 12 overall in a quarterback-rich class.

Sunday's matchup will be the first between the rookie signal-callers as Newton makes his eighth start of the season and Ponder makes his second start after taking over for Donovan McNabb under center.

Newton has likely already played his way into Rookie of the Year honors, while the former Florida State Seminole Ponder will look to build on his own impressive NFL debut against the Green Bay Packers a week ago.

League Leaders

Several league leaders will be on display in Charlotte this weekend.

Revitalized Carolina wideout Steve Smith leads the NFL in receiving with 818 yards on 39 catches.

Despite winning only one game this year, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and defense end Jared Allen are having All-Pro years. 

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Peterson leads the league with 712 yards on the ground, while Allen has a league-leading 11.5 sacks—3.5 more than the next closest, the Dallas Cowboys' star linebacker DeMarcus Ware. 

Defensive Struggles

Both teams are among the league's worst in points given up and each has had its share of troubles this season on the defensive side of the ball.

Carolina ranks 30th in points allowed per game at 26.1; the Vikings are 27th in the league, giving up 25.4 per contest.

The Panthers are among the worst at stopping the run since losing their top two linebackers, Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, to season-ending injuries early on, so containing Adrian Peterson will not be an easy task for Sean McDermott's defensive unit.

Across the field, Minnesota will take on Carolina's high-powered passing attack minus starting cornerback Chris Cook, who has been suspended from the team without pay after being arrested last weekend for alleged domestic assault.

The Verdict

I expect this to be a high-scoring game and for the Panthers to come out on top with their second convincing home win in a row.

Panthers 31, Vikings 24

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