Before each game, our Vikings coverage team makes predictions graded on a 1-10 scale of difficulty. Leader at the end of the season covers the Christmas Eve game in Green Bay … and so does the loser.

One of the comments on this blog last week was “Are they trying to be funny?” which automatically earned the commenter five points and the early season lead. As for our panel, no one came remotely close to predicting how last week’s game might fall – you’d think a relatively simple 17-14 win over the Packers with a Prince halftime show and an Adrian Peterson injury would have been a layup.

Here are this week’s predictions for the game in Carolina.


The loss of Adrian Peterson will be felt for much, if not all, of the rest of the season. But for 60 minutes on Sunday, Jerick McKinnon will make the sting dissipate. Peterson’s replacement will eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage against one of the NFL’s best defenses to help the Vikings pull off the upset against the Panthers.

Degree of difficulty: Three. Matt’s bucking the odds with his forecast of an upset, but he is one of the few people on this website who can spell “Jerick” correctly without consulting the media guided.


Panthers 22, Vikings 13. The Vikings move the ball, Jerick McKinnon looks smooth as the starting running back, Sam Bradford limits turnovers … and none of that matters, because the Vikings are playing the best team in the NFC on the road where the Panthers rarely lose. The Vikings play well but lose. It happens against good teams.

Degree of difficulty: One. Jim’s relatively mellow this week as he prepares for the Ryder Cup, where an accidental cough near the green means Rory McIlroy’s caddy might throw him in Lake Hazeltine.


Cam Newton will score a touchdown and not:
A. Dance with a teammate.
B. Pretend he’s Superman.
C. Pretend to shoot a fall-away jumper on the sideline.
D. Run 50 yards with the football so he can give it to a kid in the stands as analysts grow misty-eyed and forgive the 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike behavior.
Ah, who are we kidding. He’ll do all of that. And he’ll win the game, but Mike Zimmer’s defense will hold the Panthers well short of the 40.4 points they’ve averaged in their past seven home games.

Degree of difficulty: Four. Because Cam Newton will probably score more than one touchdown.


The Vikings play their first full game without their starting quarterback, starting left tackle and Hall of Fame running back combined. Sam Bradford has another strong game in place of Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon has a productive performance in place of Adrian Peterson, but T.J. Clemmings has Bradford running for his life in his first start at left tackle. As Meat Loaf would say, two of three ain’t bad.

Degree of difficulty: Two. I hate to say it, but kids these days not only don’t know who Meat Loaf was, they don’t know what meat loaf is.


Anthony Barr forces two fumbles, scooping up the second one for a potential game-winning touchdown before Andrew Sendejo collides with him, dislodging the ball for Panthers tackle Mike Remmers to recover .

Degree of difficulty: Seven. Sometime in the next week someone is going to google Mike Remmers and this blog is going to pop up and they will immediately subscribe to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I can tell you that.


Cam Newton will rush for 100 yards but Jerick McKinnon will rush for 200 yards — including a touchdown of more than 80 yards — keeping the Vikings close in Carolina. In the end, though, a defensive TD will save the day for the Panthers in a 27-20 win.

Degree of difficulty: Six. After reading all these glowing predictions about Jerick McKinnon from the “experts,” I immediately started Ronnie Hillman in all six of my fantasy leagues.

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