I have to try to start putting these up a little earlier in the week, I think. But, in any case, it’s once again time for everyone to call their shots for this week’s Minnesota Vikings game, as they’re set to do battle with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
As usual, we have our prediction widget from The Crowd’s Line for you to make your picks on.
This is a game between two struggling teams. The Cardinals haven’t been lighting the world on fire these past couple of weeks, and we all know the story with the Vikings. Both of these teams are dealing with injuries as well. This matchup could go a long way in figuring out who’s going to be playing football in January and who will be watching from the couch.
When the Cardinals have the ball, they’re going to be seeing a Minnesota defense that’s actually as healthy as it’s been in some time. Both linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Xavier Rhodes are back from injuries they suffered in last week’s loss at Washington, and slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn sounds like he’s on pace to play after missing last week’s contest. While the Cardinals have a very good quarterback in Carson Palmer, he’s had his issues with turnovers this year, and is going to give the Vikings’ defense opportunities to generate turnovers in this one. The Vikings are going to have to take advantage.
Arizona’s offensive line is hurting almost as much as Minnesota’s is, with left tackle Jared Veldheer and guard Evan Mathis out for the season with injuries. The Vikings’ pass rush hasn’t been able to get anything going these past couple of weeks, as teams have started getting the ball out more quickly. Hopefully players like Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter can get themselves back on track against an offensive line that’s having issues. The biggest weapon that the Vikings are going to have to look out for is running back David Johnson, who is quickly becoming one of the best all-around backs in the NFL. Johnson got bottled up last week against San Francisco, and the Vikings are going to have to do a similar job of putting the clamps on him if they want to slow down the Arizona offense.
When Minnesota has the ball, we can expect to see a lot more of the short passing game that we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks in an effort to not get Sam Bradford killed. In the two games since Pat Shurmur took over the offense for Norv Turner, Bradford has completed 77.5% of his passes and has averaged 290 yards passing per game. With a defense as stout as Arizona’s is, the Vikings are going to have to keep up that level of production in the passing game. . .you know, given that running the ball is an absolutely futile exercise with this offensive line. They’ll be helped by the fact that it doesn’t appear Arizona star safety Tyrann Mathieu will suit up on Sunday.
I would expect that Stefon Diggs, who has set an NFL record with 13 catches in each of his past two games, is going to see a lot of star cornerback Patrick Peterson in this one. If that’s the case, it’s likely going to be up to the Vikings’ secondary pass catchers in this one. Players like Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson could play a big role this afternoon as the short passing game will continue to be the primary offense for this Vikings’ team.
If the Vikings lose this one, they’ll become the first team since the merger to follow a season-opening five-game winning streak with five consecutive losses. It would also put them significantly behind the curve in their quest to get back to the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2008 and 2009. Even though my head is saying that there’s absolutely no reason to think that the Vikings are going to win this one, I’m. . .well, let’s just say that I’m not picking this one with my brain.
Vikings 23, Cardinals 20. New guy Kai Forbath makes the difference, because that totally makes no sense, which is exactly why I think it happens.
That’s what I’ve got, ladies and gentlemen. Who have you got in this one?