Week 7: Minnesota Vikings Vs. Arizona Cardinals
- QuarterbackThe Vikings were getting stellar play from Christian Ponder earlier in the season, but he is now starting to toss interceptions and make mistakes with regularity. Ponder can’t afford to throw the ball into double coverage against the active Arizona defense. If he can get back to managing the game, he should be fine in this game.Kevin Kolb was forced out of the 19-16 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter when he got crushed by the pass rush and he will not be at his best if he is able to play. Kolb has some mobility when he lines up under center, something backup quarterback John Skelton does not have. Neither quarterback is an asset for head coach Ken Whisenhunt, but Kolb appears to be the lesser of two evils.
- OffenseThe Vikings will stick the ball in Adrian Peterson’s midsection as often as they can to punish the Arizona defense. Peterson is probably the strongest running back in the league and he initiates contact and pushes the pile as well as any back in the league. Percy Harvin is one of the most dangerous players in the league. He knows how to get open and make big plays at key moments.The Cardinals do not have a great running game, but they need to take the pressure off of their quarterbacks who are getting harassed continuously. William Powell rushed for 70 yards against the Bills while LaRod Stephens-Howling can also be productive. If the Cardinals can protect the quarterback, Larry Fitzgerald is a game-changer and one of the best receivers in the league.
- DefenseThe Vikings defense seemed to run out of gas in the late going against the Redskins and gave up a 76-yard TD run to Washington QB Robert Griffin III. The Vikings are solid tacklers, but if they are going to dominate on defense they need to see defensive end Jared Allen use his quickness to sack the quarterback.The Cardinals have to rely on their defense if they are going to keep their heads above water while getting substandard quarterback play. Linebacker Daryl Washington is coming off a 14-tackle effort against the Bills. Defensive back Patrick Peterson is capable of shutting down the most athletic receivers. Defensive end Calais Campbell uses his speed and long arms to upset opposing quarterbacks and force mistakes.
- Special TeamsPercy Harvin is as dangerous a return man as he is a receiver. The Vikings had a punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown in the same game against the Detroit Lions earlier this season. Blair Walsh was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts against the Redskins.The Cardinals needed a sensational effort from placekicker Jay Feely and they got it when he hit a 61-yard field goal to tie the score late in the fourth quarter against Buffalo. However, when he had a chance to win the game with a much shorter kick at the end of regulation, Feely clanked his kick off the uprights.
The Vikings have been one of the more surprising teams in the league in the early going and much of that is because they have been able to keep mistakes to a minimum and making the most of their opportunities. After falling short against the Redskins last week, look for a top effort from Minnesota against a Cardinal team that has lost its consistency.