David Johnson is the engine of the Cardinal offense. Much like the Rams with Todd Gurley, Arizona uses Johnson in every facet: as a runner, on screens, as a receiver in the red zone, everything. The Viking linebackers struggled to contain Gurley in week four, and the Eagles similarly found mismatches with their running backs on Barr and Kendricks. Expect much of the same from Arizona. Also, because of this, the possibility exists that the Vikings utilize their safeties in more linebacker-esque coverage roles.
Peterson may be the best corner the Vikings face all year. Thus far, the level of opponent has not mattered with Thielen, as he has gone over 100 yards in each of the first five games. But Peterson is a different animal from, say, Marcus Peters. He is not a read-and-react ball hawk. Rather, he is a big, physical pressing style of corner with elite speed. Thielen is a physical player himself, so we may have an “unstoppable force against an immovable object” situation.
The Cardinal line has been atrocious this year. Not a great thing to have with a rookie quarterback just getting his first tastes of NFL action. Humphries is the lone guy on the line who seems to be making strides as a pass blocker, as he did not allow a pressure last week. Now, he gets Hunter, who is feasting on quarterbacks through five weeks. With a sack in each game to start the season, Hunter is proving to be worth every penny of the extension he signed this offseason. Meanwhile, Josh Rosen has to be concerned not just about his blindside, but about the potential barrage of pressure he may see from every direction.
The Vikings may be short on pass rush depth once again, as Tashawn Bower has missed each day of practice this week with an ankle injury. Everson Griffen remains away from the team for mental health reasons, leaving Hunter and Stephen Weatherly as perhaps the lone guys for the second week in a row.
On the offensive line, rookie Brian O’Neill may be in line for his first start. Riley Reiff injured his foot last week in Philadelphia, and was a DNP both Wednesday and Thursday. Rashod Hill may get the start at left tackle with O’Neill handling right tackle. We may also see more George Iloka at safety, given Andrew Sendejo remains out with a groin injury.
Dalvin Cook was a full participant in practice Thursday, so he seems in line to return. That will obviously come in handy for the Vikings, given the lack of production they got from their running backs last week.
Arizona is nursing a number of injuries, particularly on the offensive line. Starting guard Mike Iupati and swing tackle Andre Smith were DNPs both days this week, while D.J. Humphries was limited Thursday after missing Wednesday. Aside from them, a whole bunch of players have been limited this week, including Larry Fitzgerald. We will see how their status changes once injury designations are released.
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Madison Parkhill: Minnesota 24, Arizona 13
Coming off a big win against the defending champion Eagles, the Vikings face one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals, as double-digit home favorites. While this game has similar “trap game” vibes as the Bills game, the Vikings should be better prepared this time. Riley Reiff’s potential absence is also a concern, as Chandler Jones is a premier pass rusher and could be a disruptive force on Sunday. Ultimately, I expect the Vikings defense to deliver its best performance of the season to date. If that holds true, I like the Vikings chances to cover the spread and deliver a relatively easy win.
– Madison Parkhill writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @MadPark44.
Clayton Brooks: Minnesota 28, Arizona 10
The Vikings got a much needed win last weekend in Philadelphia. With the Saints coming for a rematch in three weeks, the Vikings need to continue to right the ship, and the next two weeks offer opportunities to do exactly that.
The Cardinals are coming off their first win of the season. Despite the final score, Arizona doesn’t appear to present a challenge the Vikings should struggle with. The Cardinals success came largely off of five takeaways. This opponent has struggled on both sides of the all season minus last week. A rookie quarterback with limited weapons on offense and a struggling defense should equal Vikings win…so long as the Vikings don’t make the same mistake they made with the Buffalo Bills in week three by looking too far ahead.
– Clayton Brooks writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @ClaytonRBrooks2.
Sam Smith: Minnesota 27, Arizona 16
Arizona is probably going to struggle to find the end zone, but they can move the ball, if they get any help from their terrible offensive line. I think David Johnson will have a big day, but ultimately, the Vikings defense will be too strong to allow anything in the passing game. Offensively, Minnesota will have to deal with some playmakers in the Arizona secondary and a couple good pass rushers. When it comes down to it, however, Minnesota should have too much offensive talent to allow this game to be close for long stretches. Granted, that should have been the case against Buffalo. Who knows, maybe this is another massive letdown game where the Vikings find a way to play down to an inferior opponent. But I think they pull through in this one and win relatively easily.
Roger Dier: Minnesota 37, Arizona 0
Sunday’s game with Arizona is more important to the Vikings’ future than the contest last week in Philadelphia. Last week the Vikings played the defending Super Bowl champs. This week they play a team Alabama could roll.
The Vikings are in the same position they were when Buffalo rolled into town: A team with Super Bowl aspirations playing a weak team with a rookie quarterback. The Bills, most everyone thought, were an easy mark.
So is Arizona. If the Vikings are to crawl out of the ditch of mediocrity this season, this is the game to do it. Win and they are on the right side of .500. Lose to the horrible, 1-4 Cardinals and Minnesota slides off the road and likely, out of the post-season.
Arizona’s run defense is the second worst in the league, yielding 142.4 yards per game. That’s a big number in the era of air-it-out football. The Cardinals’ defense has yielded a league-worst eight rushing touchdowns.
If the Vikings are to oil their rushing offense for the final 10 games of the season, they couldn’t find a more appropriate defense to ram and run against Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals have the absolute worst offense in the NFL. They’ve racked up 210 yards per-game. I’m amazed that they’ve even won a game.
The table is set for the Vikings to gorge on a big meal. Belching after a win is encouraged.
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