Yes, it’s once again time for our Five Good Questions segment for this week, as we take a look at this week’s contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals. This week, I exchanged questions with Seth Cox from SB Nation’s blog for everything about the Cardinals, Revenge of the Birds. Once they post my responses to their questions, I’ll add them to our front page here, but here are his answers to the handful of questions I had for him.
1) Last season, the Cardinals were one of the NFL's high-flying offenses, ranking second in the NFL in points scored. This year, they're averaging eight points fewer a game. What has been the reason for the drop-off in the Cardinals' offense this season?
Right now it is the lack of big plays. They have zero big play passing touchdowns this year, and Michael Floyd and John Brown have been injured, ineffective or both through the entirety of the season.
After last week, it looks like Floyd is getting back on track, but now the question is can they find the big plays to open things back up for David Johnson, who has seen his yards per carry completely fall off a cliff. Without the big plays, this offense is really good between the 20's, even extremely efficient, they just can't produce big points.
2) On the other hand, Arizona's defense has picked up where they left off in 2015, once again ranking as one of the league's top defenses. What is the biggest strength of the Arizona defense, in your opinion?
They have not been spectacular in run or pass defense every game, but they have been spectacular in shutting one or the other down in every game.
That is what makes this defense so good right now, is that they can take away one portion of the playbook on any given week. Obviously the issue becomes how effective the other team is in the other portion of the game. Buffalo ran the ball down the Cardinals throats. LA was able to pass enough to get a win. San Francisco got enough of a passing game going that they almost scared up a win.
Chandler Jones and Markus Golden should be licking their chops for Sunday, but they've struggled a couple of games against backup tackles, so you never know.
3) Like the Vikings, it appears that the Cardinals have had to deal with a lot of injuries so far this season. If you could take one Cardinal player with injury issues and magically make them 100% healthy again, which player would it be?
Jared Veldheer, but Tyrann Mathieu's nagging injuries are a close second. Veldheer's presence, or lack of, was felt from game one. Arizona could not get a push in the run game, John Wetzel gave up five pressures, and the overall pace of the offense just looked off. That is what a good left tackle does for an offense.
Meanwhile, Mathieu has yet to be himself this season, and it shows on defense, where the Cardinals miss his infectious swagger that lifts the entire defenses morale up. Yet, Mathieu is still out there and he is hopefully close to being back in form, while Veldheer is done for the season.
4) Give us one "under the radar" player on each side of the ball that you think will have a significant impact on Sunday's game.
Meet the D.J.'s.
Arizona Cardinals starting right tackle D.J. Humphries has had his struggles throughout the season and he gets the unenviable task of trying to slow down Danielle Hunter.
On the other side of the ball, D.J. Swearinger has been a nightmare matchup for opposing offenses, playing well as a box safety coming down hill in run support, and a heat sinking missile in the middle of the field pass defense. He is an enforcer that can make one hit that changes the complexion of the game for the Cardinals.
If Humphries can find a way to slow down Hunter, while Swearinger can set the tone early in the game, those players can both make life difficult for the Vikings.
5) What is your prediction for this Sunday's contest?
I think this is an ugly game that the better offense finds a way to win, but if Griffen and Hunter are on their game... It will be a long day for the Arizona Cardinals offense.
Bonus question: Bruce Arians. The hat. Do they sell those somewhere? Asking for. . .a friend. Yeah. Asking for a friend.
As for the Arians Kangol hat, they typically have them on sale around Christmas time on the team site for the Arizona Cardinals, so... Keep your eyes peeled for your friend.
Thanks to Seth for taking a moment to answer our questions about this week’s contest. If you’re not already following the folks from Revenge of the Birds, head on over and check them out.
UPDATE: A reader named LaVell sent me a link to a place where people can get the hats. The proceeds from said hats go to support the Bruce Arians Foundation. I. . .er, my friend. . .likes the hats, and if you like them as well you can support a good cause if you purchase one.