The Arizona Cardinals will square off against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7 of the NFL regular season, but this battle of 4-2 teams could be the biggest surprise of the season.
With both squads expected to be nothing this year, each has taken the underdog role and used it as motivation. Now these teams are fighting for a chance to move into the upper echelon of the NFL.
While both the Cardinals and Vikings have very strong teams, only the winner of this game will go on to finish the season with a winning record and a playoff berth.
Is that enough drama to get the casual fan to watch?
Where: Mall of America Field, Minneapolis
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 40; Spread: Minnesota (-6)
While gamblers see a matchup like this and think easy win, that isn’t the case. Both teams know what is on the line and are going all in. I would avoid betting this game because there are too many intangibles, but if I had to, I would take the over and the Cardinals getting six points.
What’s at Stake?
While this may not be a divisional battle, these two teams are already looking at Sunday's game as a precursor to the wild-card showdown that could befall these teams. Each sits at 4-2 on the season, but the tough division each hails from forces the hope for a playoff berth to come from the wild-card spot.
Tiebreakers and momentum will go in the favor of Sunday’s winner, and neither team can afford to lose another game right now. The winner of this matchup will make the playoffs and the loser will not.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
Kevin Kolb, QB, Out
John Skelton, QB, Probable
Todd Heap, TE, Questionable
Reggie Walker, LB, Questionable
Greg Toler, CB, Questionable
Anthony Sherman, FB, Questionable
Michael Adams, CB, Questionable
Jerome Simpson, WR, Questionable
Mistral Raymond, S, Questionable
Marvin Mitchell, LB, Questionable
Cardinals Player to Watch: Larry Fitzgerald, WR
Despite the tough Vikings' pass defense being ranked 10th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and the fact that Kevin Kolb is out with a rib injury, star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will still be the Cardinals' savior.
With an uncanny ability to go up and get any ball thrown his way, Fitzgerald has the ability to make even the most mediocre QB look like a mini Joe Montana. Now he has to do his magic act for John Skelton…again.
Even with the ever-changing QB rotation the Cardinals have, Fitzgerald will get his receptions, but it will be how the Vikings try to contain him that will be the difference. Arizona will win the game if the veteran WR can catch at least 10 passes.
Vikings Player to Watch: Adrian Peterson, RB
There is no better pure running back in the NFL than Adrian Peterson, plain and simple. While there may be faster backs, none possess the kind of agility, speed and power that the veteran runner has right now.
And there is still no way Peterson is 100 percent after having major knee surgery just a few months ago. His play with injury considered is flat-out unbelievable.
With 113 rushing attempts for 499 yards and two touchdowns so far this season, Peterson isn’t having his best year, but he is still very effective. If the veteran back can bounce back against the tough Cardinals in Week 7, though, the Vikings will win big.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Cardinals 20
There is little doubt that both teams have immense talent on both sides of the ball, but it will be the injuries that have plagued the Cardinals' offensive unit that will cost them the game and their chance at making the playoffs this year.
The Vikings have a great mix of offensive skill players, but the emergence of the rookie QB Christian Ponder has been the team’s biggest difference. With a defense that can stay fresh because of the team’s offensive prowess, Minnesota’s defenders have become a real force.
Arizona isn’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but the lack of a rushing attack without Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams and the injury to Kevin Kolb will doom the Cardinals.
Vikings win a tight one with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
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