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Keenum, Vikings can clinch NFC North with win over Panthers

From FOX Sports - December 7, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)Case Keenums improbable season has the Minnesota Vikings thinking playoffs.

Keenum entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, one year after Cam Newton made a splash as the No. 1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers.

While the two quarterbacks have taken dramatically different paths, it is Keenum who has the Vikings positioned to win the NFC Northand perhaps even earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Vikings (10-2) can clinch their second division titleand first with Keenum at the helmin three years by beating Newtons Panthers (8-4) on the road Sunday. Minnesota can also clinch if Green Bay and Detroit lose or tie.

Keenums success doesnt surprise Panthers wide receiver Russell Shepard, who regularly works out with the fifth-year quarterback in the offseason.

The Vikings called him last-minute, Shepard said of Keenan signing with the Vikings last offseason. They wanted him, kind of in his mind from what he was telling me, as a camp body, an extra guy, knowing the injuries at quarterback with Teddy (Bridgewater) still being hurt. Just to see him take off, man, its one of those crazy stories.

Keenum is 8-2 as the Vikings starter since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford, after struggling in his previous 26 starts with the Rams and Texans.

Shepard said it makes for a great story.

Were like the misfits, like the rug rats, said Shepard of undrafted players, of which he is one.

In this league, in life in general, everybody wants to see the underdog succeed. Everybody wants to see the guy that nobody expected to be that guy.

ACROSS FROM KALIL: Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has sacked Carolinas Cam Newton five times in two games, including three of Minnesotas eight sacks in the 22-10 victory in Charlotte on Sept. 25, 2016. This time, hell be lined up across former teammate Matt Kalil, who spent the past five seasons with the Vikings.

Griffen and Kalil were also college teammates at Southern Cal, so their friendship dates back almost a decade.

Im going to watch my tape. Im going to study him. Im going to know him better than I know my phone number, said Griffen, whose 42+ sacks since becoming a full-time starter in 2014 are the third-most in the NFL in that span.

Im just going to go out there and rush him. Set him up, use what I use, use my Gods gifts, which is my speed. He knows that. Im just excited to go up against him. Its going to be fun. I havent seen him in a while so its going to be a fun game.

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