After another close, disappointing loss and then a couple of tumultuous days, it’s finally time to shift our focus to the Vikings next opponent. And that’s the Arizona Cardinals, who will visit Mall of America Field this Sunday and bring with them a 3-4 record that includes 2 straight losses and a 1-3 mark on the road.
The Vikings haven’t looked any better through the first 7 games, though, and they must be about their business to defend home field against a team they’ve become quite familiar with; the Vikings and Cardinals have faced each other in each of the last 3 seasons now and also in 4 of the past 5 seasons.
Under head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings are 3-1 against Arizona and they have a good chance to improve that mark to 4-1 if the defenses can return to form in the friendly confines of home and if RB Adrian Peterson continues his assault on opposing defenses. The Vikings defense ranks 7th in the NFL in offensive points allowed and they are yielding just 12.6 offensive points per game at home. Peterson, meanwhile, is the NFL’s rushing leader with 776 yards on the ground and the Cardinals have the NFL’s 29th ranked run defense. Now there’s a recipe for success if you’re the Vikings.
The Vikings pass rush has failed to be a factor in 2010 but Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Co. have a chance to get back on track this Sunday. The Cardinals have not seen quality play from their QBs this season, with rookie Max Hall supplanting veteran Derek Anderson as the starter but Anderson having to relieve Hall of his duties 3 times already. On top of that, Arizona has surrendered 22 sacks already this season, which is tied for the 5th most in the NFL.
There are a few other important areas of the game where the Vikings have a favorable matchup. Arizona has the 2nd most giveaways on the season, they are converting just 31.4% of their 3rd downs (3rd worst in NFL), they have allowed the 2nd most points per game in the NFL, they have the 27th total defense in the NFL, they are -9 in turnover ratio and they are yielding 25.7 yards per kickoff return.
With all of that being said, we’re foolish to assume this will be an easy victory for the Vikings. Winning in the NFL is never easy and the Vikings have dropped a game at home already this year after going 9-0 at Mall of America Field last season. While Arizona is -9 in turnover ratio, the Vikings aren’t much better at -7. Arizona also features a nice dual rushing attack with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Both RBs are good as runners and receivers out of the backfield. Oh yeah, and Arizona also has this guy named Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., who is arguably the best WR in the NFL and is certainly in the top 3 or 4. He has elite size, speed and ball skills and will be a challenge for the Vikings secondary.
Another thing to like about Arizona is their head coach, Ken Whisenhunt. He came to Arizona in 2007 after serving as the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh and he’s done a terrific job in turning the franchise’s fortunes around. A laughing stock not many years ago, Arizona has turned into a winner, as Whisenhunt became the first coach in team history with a .500 record or better in each of his first 3 seasons (8-8 in 2007; 9-7 in 2008; 10-6in 2009). In addition, the Cardinals are 1 of just 2 NFL teams (Vikings) to improve its win total each of the last 3 seasons.
So, it’s a good matchup between the Vikings and Cardinals on Sunday and it’s also a matchup of 2 division-winning teams from a season ago who have struggled out of the gates in 2010. I won’t go as far as to say it’s a “must-win” for both teams, but it’s as close to a must-win scenario as you can get in a Week 9 contest.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 146 Comments »