The Carolina Panthers underperformed, as they had in the two weeks prior, on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. And, unfortunately, so did we.
Here’s how we did in our Week 6 predictions from the disappointing loss.
Panthers don’t reach the end zone in the first quarter
The Minnesota Vikings defense has clamped down of late, allowing just 31 points between their last two outings against the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. Only three of those, as a matter of fact, came in the first quarter. With the Panthers offense struggling, that trend continues.
Outcome: Incorrect. It took until their second possession of the game (and not the first because quarterback Sam Darnold ended that one promptly) to shoot this one down. Running back Chuba Hubbard reached the end zone almost seven minutes in.
Vikings don’t reach it in the first either
Save for that Week 4 trip where they ran into a juggernaut of an offense in Dallas, the Panthers have allowed just one first-half touchdown all year. Plus, that came with mere seconds left on the second-quarter clock back against the Texans. Either way, they clamp down too and deny Minnesota pay dirt early on.
Outcome: Correct. The Panthers defense held the Vikings to a pair of field goals in the first quarter. Kicker Greg Joseph was good from 25 yards out on both tries.
When the Vikings do, it’ll be courtesy of Dalvin Cook
Unlike the Panthers, the Vikings are getting their do-it-all rusher back this Sunday. He’ll cap off Minnesota’s first touchdown drive of the afternoon with a short run to the paint.
Outcome: Incorrect. Although he would eventually find the end zone, it wouldn’t be on Minnesota’s first trip there. That, instead, came courtesy of tight end Chris Herndon on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins, giving the visitors a 12-10 lead at the 10:59 mark of the second quarter.
But Cook finishes with under 4.0 yards per carry
Carolina got torched the last time they faced a premier running back. (Shoutout to Ezekiel Elliott and those 143 rushing yards.) But this is a unit that can learn and adjust, even with their numerous injuries. Cook ends the day with around 20 carries for an underwhelming output (at least for him).
Outcome: Incorrect. Cook finished with 140 rushing yards on 29 carries. That’s good enough for a 4.8-yard average.
Chuba Hubbard finishes with over 4.0 yards per carry
Hubbard really seems to be hitting a groove, as he’s fresh off a 101-yard rushing performance. He’ll be even more comfortable against a soft Minnesota run defense that’s allowed 130.0 yards per game (22nd in the NFL) and 4.7 yards per carry (29th).
Outcome: Incorrect. Hubbard did well, but not well enough to prove us right. He rushed for 61 yards on 16 attempts, averaging out at 3.8 yards per carry.
Hubbard also finishes with his first touchdown
The rookie punches it in for his first NFL touchdown, too. Similarly to Cook, he tops a drive with a short-yardage take into the end zone.
Outcome: Correct. Like we said, he did well. Hubbard, again, scored in that first quarter.
And so does Terrace Marshall Jr.
Call it a hunch, as predictions often are, but we’ll have two firsts for a pair of Carolina rookies. The absence of Christian McCaffrey must, at some point, give way to more opportunities for others. Marshall Jr., who’s seen just six targets over the past two games, gets more involved this week.
Outcome: Incorrect. Marshall Jr. exited the game after sustaining a concussion in the second quarter. He finished with one catch for nine yards. But if it’s any consolation to our prediction, safety Kenny Robinson scored his first NFL touchdown on a blocked punt.
Sam Darnold has another multi-turnover game
The Vikings haven’t been particularly greedy, as they’ve racked up just four takeaways. A good fix, however, is facing a guy who’s awfully friendly with opposing defenses. Darnold has a more composed outing than last Sunday, but still coughs up a fumble and an interception.
Outcome: Correct. Unlike Sam, who completed 17 of his 41 throws, we were accurate here. Darnold threw a pick on the first play of the game and lost a fumble on a sack from defensive tackle Armon Watts.
And so does Kirk Cousins
The Panthers only have five takeaways themselves. But a strip-sack for defensive end Brian Burns and a pick from rookie corner Keith Taylor (another first!) trip up Cousins and the Minnesota offense.
Outcome: Incorrect. The Vikings only had one turnover and that was on a fumble by wideout Justin Jefferson early in the first quarter. Cousins had himself a clean afternoon, completing 33 of 48 attempts for 373 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers.
Carolina needs Darnold to return to his earlier form, where he took care of the ball and didn’t succumb to too many old habits. That may not happen, at least not yet, without McCaffrey there to alter the entire offense. The Vikings take advantage of that and steal one, 23-20.
Outcome: Correct. The Panthers lost in overtime, 34-28.