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Stock Market Report: Cardinals

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The losing streak is dead! The losing streak is dead!

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Losing streaks don't last forever, it just seems that way. Not a lot of people gave the Vikings much of a chance today, to be quite honest, and if we're being honest with each other, I didn't really give them much of a chance, either. The offensive line is a mess, the running game is about as vibrant as a Missouri Synod Lutheran hymnal...

/opens to hymn 170

/sees there's six verses, expects verses one, three, and five

/pastor says we're singing all six

/congregation collectively groans and goes through the motions, just like the o-line

...and the defense has had mystifying stretches of mediocrity. All of those were once again present today, and like herpes, they won't be going away this year. Still, the Vikings were able to find some Valtrex, gut out all six verses, and when the clock struck zero, they were 30-24 winners. Yeah, they made you sweat, but EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!

Ev'rybody dance now!
Ev'rybody dance now!
Give me the music.
Give me the music.
Ev'rybody dance now!
Ev'rybody dance now!
Yeah! Yeah!
Ev'rybody dance now!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Ev'rybody, Here is the go.
Back with the pace.
My jam is live and I'm best and don't waste time
Off the mic with dope ryhme.
Jump to the rhythm, jump jump.
And I'm here to combine
Beats and lyrics to make you shake your pants.
Take a chance.
Come on and dance.
Guys, grab a girl.
Won't wait, make the twirl.
It's your world and I'm just a squirrel
Tryin' to get a nut to move your butt to the dance floor
So your butts up, hands, in the air, come on say, Yeah.

Ev'rybody over here,
Ev'rybody over there,
The crowd is live enough for this fool.
Party people in the house move next in line
Groove. Work me all night.
Come on let's sweat, baby.
Let the music take control
Let the rhythm move you.
Sweat, sweat.
Let the music take control
Let the rhythm move you.

Your 'if we can beat the Lions on Thanksgiving we'll be in first place' SMR follows.

Blue Chip Stocks:

Xavier Rhodes, CB: We've been saying for awhile that Xavier Rhodes is becoming a bona fide shutdown corner, and that might have been solidified today. First, from Pro Football Focus:

Secondly, he had two of the most athletic plays the Vikings have turned in recent season. His first was a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown, and came at a time when the Vikings defense was reeling and desperately needed a play. Granted, it was a bad throw by Carson Palmer, and a non-PI call (or defensive holding, take your pick) on Captain Munnerlyn, but a 100 yard, 14 point swing? Yeah, that was yuuuge. Bigly even, because it came towards the end of the second half, with the Cardinals on the verge of scoring and taking the lead. So instead of 17-13 Cardinals (or at a minimum 13-13) it was 20-10 good guys. But I would argue his second interception was the best catch anyone on the Vikings has made this year. Over the shoulder, diving, sprawling...it had it all, to include the Vikings getting the ball when the play was over. Incredible athleticism, and incredible game from Rhodes.

Rhodes closed, indeed.

Adam Thielen, WR: Adam Thielen simply catches everything thrown his way. If he can get his hands on it, it's going to be a catch, and more than likely either a first down or a touchdown. His first catch today, an acrobatic, twisting touchdsown that originally wasn't, was a play the Vikings haven't been making in recent weeks, and it was a play the offense, and the team as a whole, desperately needed. It seemed to settle down the Vikings...and the crowd. And sometimes, all you need to do is take a deep breath and get an early lead. And Thielen's TD catch did both.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR: I don't know what is was that finally made the switch flip for Patterson, but I'm glad it did. There are receivers that have better stats than Patterson, but I don't see anyone giving more effort than him, play after play be it offense or special teams. speaking of special teams, he had a 104 yard kickoff return to open the second half. And after the Cardinals had closed the score to within three at the end of the half, it was another huge boost for the Vikings, at just the right time.

Danielle Hunter, DE: The revival of the pass rush was led today by Hunter, who was everywhere at once, and had two sacks, including the one to essentially clinch the win. The key to the Vikings bringing pressure is having seven or eight guys they can rotate in and out, and Hunter is a key player in that rotation. He had two sacks today, leading the team, and was as disruptive as he has ever been.

Jeff Locke, P: Hey, do you guys remember when Jeff Locke was the Blair Walsh of punters? Me either, because he's awesome. He also had, one of the most critical plays of the game. With the Vikings up by six, and just over two minutes left, the Vikes had a 4th down on their own 15. Every Vikings fan...and I mean EVERY ONE...had that sick 'here we go again' feeling coming over them, because even a 45 yard punt with no return puts the ball on their 35, with plenty of time to drive for the touchdown and the game winning extra point. But Locke flipped the script, booted the ball 72 yards all the way down to the Arizona 13, and pinned Arizona deep.

Solid Investments:

Kai Forbath, K: WOOOOOOOOOOO A KICKER THAT MAKES ALL KICKS THAT AREN'T BLOCKED I FEEL LIKE RUNNING UP AND DOWN MY STREET SCANTILY CLAD WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Harrison Smith, S: Smith had a solid game. Not spectacular, but solid. And really, solid was all that was needed from the guy that is the heart of this defense, because the last few games have been less than solid. Hopefully, Smith's performance today was the symbolic turning point for the defense as a whole, and the bad play of the last four and a half games are, hopefully, a thing of the past.

Brian Robison, DE: If Hunter was the leader of the pass rush resurgence, Robison was guarding Hunter's flank. Also, Robison's 'FISH ON' sack celebration is the best one in the NFL. You may disagree with that opinion, but you're also as wrong as someone wearing polka dots, clown shoes, and stripes to a black tie only event, unless your name is Craig Sager. But you're not Craig Sager. So...you're still wrong.

Junk Bonds:

Vikings Running Game: Look, we're 10 games in, and this running game is what it is. And that's bad. I mean, think about this for a minute. At the end of the game today, you were probably thinking to yourself ''hey, I saw some life in the Vikings running game today', and in some respects you'd be right. Matt Asiata actually got TWO yards on a couple of third and ones (including a touchdown that originally wasn't), and as a team they had several...multiple...runs of five, six, or even seven yards or more.

But them you look at the stat sheet, and you see they ran they ran 24 times for only 72 yards, a 3.0 average, and you're like 'really? That can't be!' So yeah, we're getting ready to call 72 yards and a 3.0 average 'progress', and that's...not good.

The Referees: I am not a conspiracy theorist, and I say that because I do not believe that the powers that be at NFL headquarters direct referee crews to help determine the outcome of football games. And I know complaining about the referees is like complaining about paying your taxes--no one likes it, everyone does it, and like taxes, referees are necessary, but still...there are terrible calls that literally affect the outcome of games on a weekly basis, and today was no exception. There were at least three calls or non-calls against both teams that were total garbage, and you could make the argument that any one or two of those calls helped sway the outcome of the game.

Whether it was the non-PI call by Captain Munnerlyn on Rhodes' 100 yard interception return, Tom Johnson's COMPLETE BULLSHIT roughing the passer call on Arizona's last possession that extended the drive, the three 15 yard penalties on Arizona during the Vikings final scoring drive (a Forbath field goal), or two touchdowns that weren't initially touchdowns that had to be challenged by Mike Zimmer...the quality and caliber of the NFL referee seems to be at an all time low, and it's not getting any better.

Charles Johnson, WR: Look, I'd really go on and on about Charles Johnson being on a milk carton, and being about as effective as a condom with a hole in the tip, but the last time I said something even REMOTELY negative about him on Twitter, his wife/fiancee/girlfriend (whatever) lit me up. So I won't say anything about a starting WR having a grand total of seven catches and 101 yards receiving in 10 games...which is three catches more, and 28 yards and one touchdown less than Xavier Rhodes.

That would be cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Who plays defense.

Anthony Barr, LB: Barr's game is just flat out bad this year, there's no two ways about it. Bad.

Buy/Sell:

Buy: Sam Bradford's performance. Bradford was efficient today, and played a solid game. 10 weeks in, and I still like the Bradford trade, and I like his overall performance. I don't know that he's going to be the guy that is going to throw for 350 yards every week, but he's not going to make a lot of dumb plays and lose a game for you, either.

Sell: That performance is good enough to win week in and week out. Still, though, I'd like to see Bradford push the ball down the field more. The Vikings did some more of that today, bit overall, this is a very dink and dunk offense right now, which is kind of frustrating seeing as how the Vikings were stretching the field with success earlier in the year. Still, it's a bit of a nitpicky point in the wake of a big win.

Buy: The second half defense. Early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings had only given up six total yards, and had completely shut down the Cardinals. They harassed Carson Palmer the entire half, and on Arizona's last drive, they made two game clinching sacks to close the game out. The only scoring drive the defense surrendered was off of a Vikings turnover, and Arizona only needed 37 yards to score. It was a dominant performance.

Sell: The first half defense. But the first half defense was as bad as the second half was good. The Cardinals seemed to drive the field at will, getting chunks of yards at a time. They averaged almost nine yards on first down, and had it not been for Rhodes' 100 yard pick six, they were on the verge of giving up 24 first half points. They got smoked, and had no answers for David Johnson, who nearly ran for 100 yards in the first 30 minutes.

Buy: Kai Forbath's kicking. It was reassuring knowing that your kicker was going to make his field goals and extra points. A weird, reassuring feeling.

Sell: The blocked extra point. That wasn't Forbath's fault, and kickers set an NFL record by missing 11 extra points this weekend (before the Sunday night and Monday game, so that number might yet change). Still, the block gave Vikings fans PKSD (place kicker stress disorder), and lo and behold, at the end of the game had the Cardinals driven the field for a touchdown, an extra point could have been the difference between a win and a loss. Again.

Don Glover Quote Of The Week:

So as you know it was a back and forth game, and finally, after Danielle Hunter's game clinching sack, the four game losing streak was over. My Dad and I both breathed a sigh of relief, gave each other a high five, and then Dad said

'For once, we didn't choke at the end. We won the damn thing.'

Yeah Dad, we won the dam thing. It feels like a month of Sundays since it happened...which come to think of it, it was.

We'll see you Thursday.