A weekly analysis of the Panthers' quarterback play.
Rewind: This can't be your typical evaluation. On the surface, Newton's numbers in a 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals look dismal. He had three interceptions and a fumble. He had no touchdowns and a rating of 47.8. But what the numbers don't tell you is that he started 5-for-5 for 70 yards and would have been 6-for-6 for 74 yards and a touchdown had Steve Smith not dropped a pass in the end zone. They don't tell you that on fourth-and-1 at the Arizona 15, Brandon LaFell dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. They don't tell you that the offensive line gave up seven sacks. While some of those were the result of Newton holding the ball too long, he was put in this state of duress because of things that happened early outside his control. Had others around him done their job, he wouldn't have been in the position of making turnovers late.
Fast-forward: The Vikings could be just what Newton and the Panthers need. They rank 29th against the pass and 30th in total defense. The secondary has been dismal, surrendering 1,304 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cornerback Josh Robinson will be a target for sure. He has given up 35 completions on 38 targets. The lack of a good pass defense doesn't help Minnesota, but it could help Newton, who has been solid when given time to pass.
Mental aspect: You have to wonder how the loss to Arizona impacts Newton. He says all the right things about moving forward, but you know the frustration of another 1-3 start -- particularly when he played well enough early against the Cardinals to have the game well in hand -- has to be getting to him. It doesn't help that he will be without starting left guard Amini Silatolu (ACL) after the Cards sacked him seven times.
Prediction: The Vikings aren't close to the defense Newton saw at Arizona. So if he can get past the disappointment of last week and not be distracted by a loud and hostile crowd, I look for him to bounce back like he did against the Giants (three touchdown passes, one rushing score).