A matchup of the 1-6 Minnesota Vikings and the 2-5 Carolina Panthers isn't big in the grand scheme of things. For the team's themselves the game takes on a much bigger stature as both try to put together complete 60-minute performances from a season filled with fits and starts. For the two starting rookie quarterbacks this game could be monumental, as it should be.
For the Vikings, Christian Ponder will start just the second game of his career. He debuted as the starter against the Green Bay Packers last week, going 13-for-32 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions. While Ponder's debut was shaky, the Vikings were competitive against a Super Bowl contender, ultimately losing the game by six. That's a big improvement considering where the team was headed with Donovan McNabb under center.
Cam Newton is a veteran in contrast to Ponder. He will make his eighth start of the season Sunday for a Panthers squad that has come miles from last season even if they are still near the bottom of the league. With Newton under center, the Panthers have more touchdowns so far this year (18) than they did all of last season (16). While Newton still has plenty of work to go--he's tied for second in the league with nine interception this season--he has added a much needed spark to what was a downtrodden club.
Both teams have had their bright spots this year, and are improving steadily. Though they aren't expected to factor into the playoff picture, there is upside for the rest of the season, setting up what could be a 2012 return to prominence.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, October 30; 1:00pm ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Vikings: KFAN, KTLK
Panthers: 1110 AM WBT