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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

All quiet at Bank of America Stadium as Vikings arrive without incident

CHARLOTTE — All is relatively quiet right now, a couple of hours before game time, at Bank of America Stadium, where the Vikings and Panthers will kick off as scheduled a little after 1 p.m. local time.

The unrest in the city has died down after violent protests were sparked Tuesday night and Wednesday night following a police shooting. There were internet rumors of civil demonstrations being planned to take place outside of the stadium this morning. But if they are happening somewhere, they have yet to impact today’s game.

All five Vikings team buses arrived at the stadium without incident and some players are already out on the field for early warmups. The final two buses, for the late sleepers, just pulled in to the stadium a little bit ago.

This reporter did not spot a single protester on his way inside. There were a ton of tailgaters, though, with the smell of sizzling hot dogs wafting through the air. A couple of police cruisers were parked on the south side of the stadium. The officers leaning on them appeared pretty relaxed.

We will let you know if things change on this beautiful Sunday morning.

Is Vikings fill-in Jerick McKinnon destined for big day?

Before each game, our Vikings coverage team makes predictions graded on a 1-10 scale of difficulty. Leader at the end of the season covers the Christmas Eve game in Green Bay … and so does the loser.

One of the comments on this blog last week was “Are they trying to be funny?” which automatically earned the commenter five points and the early season lead. As for our panel, no one came remotely close to predicting how last week’s game might fall – you’d think a relatively simple 17-14 win over the Packers with a Prince halftime show and an Adrian Peterson injury would have been a layup.

Here are this week’s predictions for the game in Carolina.

MATT VENSEL

The loss of Adrian Peterson will be felt for much, if not all, of the rest of the season. But for 60 minutes on Sunday, Jerick McKinnon will make the sting dissipate. Peterson’s replacement will eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage against one of the NFL’s best defenses to help the Vikings pull off the upset against the Panthers.

Degree of difficulty: Three. Matt’s bucking the odds with his forecast of an upset, but he is one of the few people on this website who can spell “Jerick” correctly without consulting the media guided.

JIM SOUHAN

Panthers 22, Vikings 13. The Vikings move the ball, Jerick McKinnon looks smooth as the starting running back, Sam Bradford limits turnovers … and none of that matters, because the Vikings are playing the best team in the NFC on the road where the Panthers rarely lose. The Vikings play well but lose. It happens against good teams.

Degree of difficulty: One. Jim’s relatively mellow this week as he prepares for the Ryder Cup, where an accidental cough near the green means Rory McIlroy’s caddy might throw him in Lake Hazeltine.

 MARK CRAIG

Cam Newton will score a touchdown and not:
A. Dance with a teammate.
B. Pretend he’s Superman.
C. Pretend to shoot a fall-away jumper on the sideline.
D. Run 50 yards with the football so he can give it to a kid in the stands as analysts grow misty-eyed and forgive the 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike behavior.
Ah, who are we kidding. He’ll do all of that. And he’ll win the game, but Mike Zimmer’s defense will hold the Panthers well short of the 40.4 points they’ve averaged in their past seven home games.

Degree of difficulty: Four. Because Cam Newton will probably score more than one touchdown.

CHIP SCOGGINS

The Vikings play their first full game without their starting quarterback, starting left tackle and Hall of Fame running back combined. Sam Bradford has another strong game in place of Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon has a productive performance in place of Adrian Peterson, but T.J. Clemmings has Bradford running for his life in his first start at left tackle. As Meat Loaf would say, two of three ain’t bad.

Degree of difficulty: Two. I hate to say it, but kids these days not only don’t know who Meat Loaf was, they don’t know what meat loaf is.

ANDREW KRAMMER

Anthony Barr forces two fumbles, scooping up the second one for a potential game-winning touchdown before Andrew Sendejo collides with him, dislodging the ball for Panthers tackle Mike Remmers to recover .

Degree of difficulty: Seven. Sometime in the next week someone is going to google Mike Remmers and this blog is going to pop up and they will immediately subscribe to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I can tell you that.

 MICHAEL RAND

Cam Newton will rush for 100 yards but Jerick McKinnon will rush for 200 yards — including a touchdown of more than 80 yards — keeping the Vikings close in Carolina. In the end, though, a defensive TD will save the day for the Panthers in a 27-20 win.

Degree of difficulty: Six. After reading all these glowing predictions about Jerick McKinnon from the “experts,” I immediately started Ronnie Hillman in all six of my fantasy leagues.

12:00 PM (FOX)
Minnesota 2-0
Carolina 1-1

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