The Vikings fall to 1-6 after being beat by the packers in a game that had more upside than any loss I can ever remember having watched.  Here are the 5 key points to this weeks game.

5. Keep a balanced Offense.  It’s really easy to say, AP is the best, give him the ball all the time.  It’s also really easy to say, we’re done for this year, let Ponder throw 100 times.  The danger in doing that however is that Ponder could get hurt, or have a bunch of bad throws or big hits on him and start getting rattled.  The Key to success is just to keep balanced.

4. Protect Ponder.  This goes hand in hand with what I was just saying.  To win this game, to win games in the future, Ponder has to be healthy.  Also, to keep Ponder growing, he can’t be constantly hit.  Look at JaMarcus Russell.  He was always on the ground, and it cut his career really short.  Ponder needs time to be successful, that means in every individual play, and that means the rest of the season before he can really start to get it going.

3. Big Corner Play.  Winfield wants to play, Frazier doesn’t want to risk it.  Cook wants to play, but after his stay in the big house, he doesn’t really deserve to play (and that’s why he won’t play).  Which means that Griffin, Allen, Sherels and Burton all need to step up.  If they play big against Cam Newton, who’s had a marvelous rookie season, then the Vikings have a chance.  Make Newton have to beat you with his feet (which he’s capable of), but he isn’t going to do as much damage on the ground for an entire game like he’s been doing with his arm all season.  The corners need to have a big day.

2. Give AP the ball.  I know I said stay balanced.  However, giving AP the ball, especially early, will help build a rhythm, and let Ponder settle into this game.  If AP has games the rest of the season like he did last week against Green Bay, not only will he break records, but the Vikings will have a much better time under Ponder than they did with McNabb.  Also, Making them respect AP will make it much easier throwing the Ball for the rookie QB.

1. Contain and Rattle Cam Newton.  Newton has been huge this season.  If he’s allowed to get comfortable and get going, it will be a long day for Vikings fans.  Containing him and rattling him is the best way to turn the Panthers of 2011 into the Panthers of 2010, the team that finished worst in the NFL.  This task has proven easier said than done as most teams this season have really struggled against Newton.

Prediction time:  Well, Last week I was really close on Green Bays score of 34 (I said 33) I was off on the Vikings score of 27 (I said 10).  This week, I’m calling the Panthers to win 27-24 in a close game.