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Vikings and Cardinals Set to Duel In the Desert

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-1) GAME #12 ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-4)

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Date: 6 December 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Time: 7:15 PM CST Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium
TV: NBC Know Thy Enemy: Revenge of the Birds
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 31, Cardinals 27
Final Score: Cardinals 30, Vikings 17

After being at home since their Week 9 bye, the Vikings finally have to travel away from Minneapolis, heading to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Both teams lead their divisions going into this one, and the Beloved Purple can lock up a playoff berth for themselves with a victory tonight, as well as put some distance between themselves and Arizona in the race for a first-round post-season bye. After playing some pretty bad teams over the course of the past three weeks, now they have to face one of the NFL's better squads.

So, what are the keys to victory for the Beloved Purple this evening?

1) Get after the opposing quarterback - It's still unknown at this point whether the Arizona offense will be run by Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart this evening. In either case, the Vikings are going to have to get pressure on the quarterback. One thing to remember about the Cardinals is that their line is a little backwards, with their better offensive tackle at RT rather than LT, as the left-handed Leinart should be starting. Their normal LT is also out with an injury, so Jared Allen should be licking his chops going into this one. The Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse are going to have to get pressure and allow the back seven to cover the Cardinals' outstanding group of receivers and tight ends.

2) Take what the Cardinals give you - The Cardinals' pass defense has been pretty bad this season, ranking 29th in the NFL in terms of yardage allowed at 258.3 yards/game. Their rush defense has been alright (13th in the NFL), but if they attempt to stack the box in order to take away Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' red-hot passing game is going to have to be able to take advantage of that. Fortunately for the Vikings, they're riding a stretch that saw Brett Favre named as NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November after averaging almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns a game. If the Cardinals are determined not to let Peterson beat them, the odds are pretty good that Favre will.

3) Win the turnover battle - The Vikings have averaged exactly one turnover per game in their first 11 games of the year, and that's a trend they need to have continue if they want to have success against a team the caliber of Arizona. The lack of turnovers by the Vikings have them sporting a +8 takeaway/giveaway ratio on the season, while the Cardinals enter the game at -4 (17 takeaways, 21 giveaways). Both Warner and Leinart are susceptible to turning the ball over if they're pressured, which makes it that much more important to get pressure on them from the very start.

As usual, the game is going to kick off in about an hour and a half or so. We had a pretty good amount of participation in the open thread for the less meaningful (for us) games, and hopefully we can carry that over to the Game Thread here. The Saints won today, so the Vikings need a victory to keep pace with them. Here's hoping it takes place!

Couple of reminders. . .please try to keep the pictures to a minimum so as to keep from slowing down the thread for some folks. Also, please keep the swearing to a bare minimum as well. "Damn" is okay. . .most of the "harder stuff" is not.

Other than that, let's enjoy the game!

SKOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL VIKINGS!!!!