Sunday: Noon at Bank of America Stadium (Ch. 9, 100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
• The Panthers (8-4) lost 31-21 last week in New Orleans, ending a four-game winning streak. The Saints ran for three touchdowns and Drew Brees threw for another.
• QB Cam Newton is as dangerous as ever as a runner, averaging a career-high 5.8 yards per carry through 12 games. However, Newton is on pace for his fewest passing touchdowns (21) in a full season since 2012.
• Panthers rookie Christian McCaffrey is fifth among NFL running backs with 501 receiving yards, trailing only Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson and Le’Veon Bell.
• The Panthers defense is a top-10 unit in points (19.8), passing yards (209) and rushing yards (88.6) allowed per game. Julius Peppers is still an effective pass rusher at age 37, leading the Panthers with 8½ sacks.
PLAYER SPEAK | OT Matt Kalil
• The Vikings’ fourth overall pick in 2012 signed a five-year, $55.5 million contract with Carolina this offseason, choosing to join the Panthers and his brother, center Ryan Kalil, over a return to Minnesota.
• Kalil has played all 12 games at left tackle, a year after missing most of his final season for the Vikings because of hip surgery.
• He’s tied for third for most penalties by an NFL tackle with nine (six of them accepted).
• Coach Ron Rivera on what attracted the Panthers to Kalil: “His athleticism. We ask a lot of our tackles. They’re involved in the way we run the ball, they’re involved in the way we protect. The hardest thing, as far as Matt was concerned, was getting a feel for the way our quarterback does things.”
COACH SPEAK | Ron Rivera
• Rivera is 64-49-1 (3-3 in the playoffs) in his seven seasons as Panthers head coach.
• Rivera and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur were both on the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff from 1999 to 2003.
• On the Panthers’ 14-man injured reserve list: “I think the biggest thing we’ve dealt with is all the injuries we seem to be having right now. We start the season not really healthy and then we get a couple more guys nicked up. Get some guys back, and now a couple more are nicked up.”
• On re-signing former Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn: “He put up really good numbers when we had him the first time, and we were trying to pick those numbers back up again. Trying to use the nickel a little bit more.”