Much like last week's matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Vikings will have some similarities when they visit the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
Both teams are still seeking their first win of 2023 after 0-3 starts. The winless stretch by each side has been marred by close losses and a struggle to create turnovers. Carolina has come up with just two interceptions and has forced zero fumbles, while Minnesota has recorded only one interception and one fumble recovery.
Now, Minnesota will square off against wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Thielen signed with Carolina during the offseason after spending 10 seasons (nine active) with his hometown team. The Detroit Lakes native ranks near the top in franchise history in several categories, including receptions (third), receiving yards (fourth) and touchdowns (third).
Through three games this season, Thielen leads the Panthers in receptions (20), targets (25), yards (211), yards per game (70.3) and touchdowns (two).
The Vikings and Panthers have met 16 times in their history, with Minnesota holding a 10-6 advantage. Minnesota has won four of the past five matchups with Carolina, including two consecutive games. The Vikings edged the Panthers 28-27 in 2020 before earning a 34-28 victory in overtime in 2021 on a game-winning touchdown from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn.
Let's see who the experts are picking to win the game:
Vikings 21, Panthers 20 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
This a game featuring two winless teams. That means it's a survival bowl. You can't go 0-4. The Vikings have played the better football of the two teams, but they can't stop anybody. The defense will play better here, and they will find a way to win it with Kirk Cousins having another good day.
Vikings 35, Panthers 28 – Staff, Bleacher Report
The Vikings should be in desperation mode right now. Coming off a 2022 playoff appearance, they're 0-3 and lead the league in turnovers with nine.
Following a 28-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said he would "put other guys in the game that have ball security" if his players don't correct self-inflicted mistakes.
On Wednesday, Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young went through a full practice, which puts him on track to return after missing one game with an ankle injury. Last week, in his place, Andy Dalton threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns.
Vikings 27, Panthers 24 – Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings are now in the habit of losing one-possession games, a playoff hangover from their loss to the Giants. They'll flip the script a little here with a break for their defense as Kirk Cousins rips into another struggling defense with all his weapons with a continued boost from the backfield. Whether it's Andy Dalton or Bryce Young, the Panthers don't have the firepower to keep up, even in a revenge game for former Viking Adam Thielen.
Vikings 26, Panthers 23 – Bill Bender, Sporting News
While [Texans quarterback C.J.] Stroud is thriving, Carolina might be without [quarterback Bryce] Young, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 2. Andy Dalton passed for 361 yards in Young's place in Week 3, but it was an inefficient performance in a loss to Seattle. The Vikings have lost three one-score games despite the fact Kirk Cousins ranks third in the NFL in passer rating (108.2). Minnesota gets in the win column.
6 of 7 experts pick the Vikings, The MMQB
8 of 8 experts (two of 10 total had not submitted) pick the Vikings, ESPN
"Straight-up consensus" from seven experts: Vikings, Bleacher Report
10 of 11 experts pick the Vikings, The Athletic