Can Panthers beat a Minnesota Vikings team playing for history?


As the Vikings get off the team buses today at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, they know that with a win over the Carolina Panthers this afternoon, they will secure an NFC North division championship for the second time and three years and take yet another massive step to securing a first-round bye.

That's the plan for Minnesota (10-2) again on Sunday when it faces the Panthers (8-4) in a game with big NFC playoff implications. Carolina, meanwhile, lost an important division battle to New Orleans last week but had previously won four in a row. This one will be hard though as the Panthers open up a three-game home stretch where winning each contest is extremely important to their playoff hopes.

FELDMAN: We saw what the Vikings' defense did last week against a team that was the best in the National Football League at converting third downs.

The Vikings offense is balanced and features a bigger back, Latavius Murray, and the speedier Jerick McKinnon as the changeup.

The key to Sunday's game likely will be the play of Case Keenum.

At 10-2, Minnesota is in the thick of the race for the No. 1 NFC playoff slot. The Panthers, who have won four of their past five games, are 8-4 and right in the mix for a postseason berth.

Minnesota has outscored Carolina, 53-23, over their last two meetings.

West Indies resume at 87-2 as rain clears
Gabriel took the new ball and conceded 22 runs from his first two overs which allowed New Zealand to take the initiative early on. A couple other batsmen got starts but the Windies snuffed them out before they flourished.

The Vikings broke a 17-17 tie with a field goal in the waning seconds at Chicago, held off a Lions comeback bid in the 30-23 win at Detroit and scored the go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter in the 14-9 win at Atlanta.

They competed against each other the past five years in practice before Kalil went to Carolina.

The Vikings are still one of the league's most efficient kick return teams, averaging more than 25 yards, even as coach Mike Zimmer calls for the group to produce more with returner Marcus Sherels.

Coming into this season, Kelvin Benjamin was thought to be maybe the team's best skill position player, but he was traded to Buffalo early in the season.

Left tackle Matt Kalil and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn left the Vikings for the Panthers this offseason.

Per Pro Football Focus, Kalil is ranked as the 63rd tackle in the NFL with a 45.7 overall score.

Noteworthy: Greg Olsen is also expected back in Carolina's lineup against Minnesota.