A vicious winter storm system has ripped the East coast, but Charlotte, NC has been spared from the massive amounts of snow that have fallen north of here in NFL cities such as Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
But, the Vikings do play outdoors tonight against the Panthers, so we need a weather report from ‘ol reliable Mr. Hippe.
Mr. Hippe calls it a kickoff temperature of 34 degrees with slight winds of 5-10 mph out of the north.
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The Vikings clinched their 2nd consecutive NFC North championship on Sunday by virtue of Green Bay’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers late this afternoon.
With the Vikings sitting at 11-2 before their game against Carolina tonight and with Green Bay falling to 9-5 after the loss to Pittsburgh, the Packers will be unable to catch the Vikings in the NFC North standings with just 2 games remaining on the regular season schedule and the Vikings holding the tie-breaker.
The Vikings have now earned back-to-back division titles for the first time since the 1977-1978 seasons and they now have 3 division crowns since 2000.
For NFC North Division Champions merchandise, click here to visit the Vikings Locker Room store for a full selection.
For information on playoff tickets, click here.
Stay tuned to the vikings.com Blog and vikings.com all night and into tomorrow for more reaction, and coverage of the Vikings game in Charlotte against the Panthers.
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Football fans will be treated to a pair of excellent LT-DE matchups during tonight’s Vikings-Panthers game, which is being televised nationally by NBC on Sunday Night Football.
Vikings DE Jared Allen will face Panthers LT Travelle Wharton and Vikings LT will face Panthers DE Julius Peppers. Watch for both of these matchups to greatly influence the flow and outcome of tonight’s game.
Let’s take a brief look at both matchups…
Jared Allen vs. Travelle Wharton
The Vikings have the advantage – on paper at least – in this matchup because Allen and his great edge rush will go against a player who typically starts at LG. Wharton has been moved to LT to replace regular starter Jordan Gross, who was placed on injured reserve.
With that said, however, Carolina is not exactly throwing a stiff in to play LT – Wharton started all 16 games at LT in both the 2005 and 2007 seasons. He stands at 6-4, 312 pounds and he’ll have his hands full in trying to defend Allen tonight.
Allen, with 12.5 sacks so far this season, is 2.0 sacks away from tying his season total from last year and he’s 2.5 sacks away from climbing into the Vikings top 5 for most sacks in a single season; Carl Eller had 15.0 in 1969 and 1976.
Bryant McKinnie vs. Julius Peppers
This might actually be the best matchup of the entire night. McKinnie is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season and Peppers is a 4-time Pro Bowler himself.
Peppers has 8.5 sacks this season and 79.0 for his career, making him the Panthers all-time leader in that department. He has elite quickness and his size (6-7, 283 pounds) allows him the strength to overpower blockers as well.
McKinnie stands at 6-8, 335 pounds but also has the quickness to matchup with Peppers. Although it’s hard to say without looking at coach’s tape if any of the sacks were actually allowed by McKinnie, it’s interesting to note that Peppers had 0 sacks against the Vikings LT in 2005, 3.0 sacks against him in 2006 and 0 sacks in last year’s game.
Lastly, this matchup will ultimately be gauged not primarily on sacks allowed but also by how well the Vikings rush the ball. Carolina ranks 6th in the NFL against the pass, so expect the Vikings to remain committed to running the ball, even on the left side where Steve Hutchinson and McKinnie will be leading the way.
Tags: Jared Allen
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Here are the Vikings’ inactives for tonight’s game against the Panthers:
QB Sage Rosenfels (3rd QB), WR Jaymar Johnson, RB Albert Young, CB Karl Paymah, TE Garrett Mills, LB J Leman, C Jon Cooper, and DT Latroy Guion.
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Between Twin Cities media outlets and a bevy of national pregame shows on Sunday morning, we’ve heard several reports of good news regarding the availability of WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice for tonight’s game in Carolina against the Panthers.
Both Harvin (migraines) and Rice (illness) were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report after missing practice time during the week. But there was a 3rd member of the Vikingsg who was listed as questionable after missing parts of practice on Thursday and Friday – DE Ray Edwards.
Edwards is listed with a back ailment and his official status for tonight’s game won’t be known until 90 minutes prior to kickoff, when teams are required to submit their list of inactive players.
Edwards is having the best season of his career. He currently has 6.5 sacks, which is 2nd on the Vikings and the most Edwards has ever tallied in a season. If he plays tonight, Edwards will have a good shot to increase his sack total because he’ll be going against a backup RT.
Carolina’s starting RT – Jeff Otah – was placed on injured reserve earlier this week and he’ll be replaced by either Geoff Schwartz or Rob Petitti.
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The massive winter storm system that crushed the East coast spared Charlotte, so the Vikings and Panthers won’t be dealing with the massive amounts of snow that have hit other NFL cities hosting games today, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
But Mother Nature hasn’t completely relented on Charlotte. Game time temperatures are forecasted to be in the low 30s – hardly typical weather for this area even in December.
It’s currently 43 degrees with clear skies.
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Tonight the Vikings will continue their chase of a 2nd consecutive division title and also the NFC’s #1 seed. And as RB Adrian Peterson assists his team in that chase tonight, he’ll also be chasing marks set by some great NFL RBs.
With 22 rushing yards, Peterson will move into 8th place in NFL history for the most rushing yards in the first 3 seasons. He currently has 4,301, with former Lions runner Barry Sanders sitting in 8th place with 4,322 through his first 3 seasons.
If Peterson rushes for 33 yards, he will climb past Sanders and also past Ottis Anderson, who had 4,333 in his first 3 seasons and is in 7th place all-time. The next RB on the list is Terrell Davis, who had 4,405 yards in his first 3 seasons. Peterson needs 105 yards to move past Davis into 6th place.
Tags: Adrian Peterson
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With Percy Harvin dealing with migraines and Sidney Rice missing practice time this week due to an illness, the Vikings had both WRs listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.
Without both players on Sunday night in Carolina, the Vikings would be missing significant pieces of their scoring attack. Harvin is 2nd on the team in receptions and receiving yards and he leads the NFL with 1,780 all-purpose yards, including 986 kickoff return yards and 2 kickoff return TDs. Rice leads the Vikings in receptions with 67 and he leads the NFC in receiving yards with 1,075.
But this report from the Pioneer Press’ website suggests that both players might be suiting up for the Vikings. That would be good news for the Purple, who suddenly have even more incentive to defeat Carolina because of the New Orleans Saints loss to Dallas last night. A win tonight would slice the Saints hold on the NFC’s #1 seed to just 1 game, with the Vikings holding the tie-breaker.
Harvin and Rice’s official status for tonight’s game won’t be known until 90 minutes prior to kickoff, when the Vikings and Panthers are required to submit their list of inactive players.
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