Not that long ago, the Arizona Cardinals were hot stuff. It never seemed real, and when they lost, everyone just nodded their heads.
It's funny, because one could make that comment about the Minnesota Vikings.
The difference is the Vikings have a great run game with a healthy Adrian Peterson—a fantastic wide receiver and an actual quarterback.
Both teams have solid defensive units, arguably better than solid.
It's going to come down to the defense that makes the big play—or the big mistake.
When the Vikings are on Offense
As is often the case, a lot of this falls on the aforementioned Peterson and Mr. Percy Harvin.
The Rams allow an average 113 yards per game, and it shouldn't be hard for Peterson to break that open, probably with some Toby Gerhart on the side as well.
While the defense they face is good, it doesn't have the speed to contain Peterson, and I expect them to wear down pretty quickly as Peterson hits them.
When passing, Christian Ponder is going to want to be judicious with his throws. This is a good defense against the pass.
They need to get Jerome Simpson involved if he's active and start getting used to stretching the field. However, they need to be judicious about it so that they put Ponder in a situation where he can succeed. Right now, that's the shorter, quicker passes.
Ponder is still developing and still prone to some poor throws and poor decisions, so don't put too much pressure on him—not when he can rely on Peterson and dinks and dunks to Harvin, who can turn them into big yards.
It will probably annoy the heck out of Vikings fans who would like to see the field stretched a lot more, but against this defense, it's better to stay conservative.
When the Vikings are on Defense
The Cardinals have no offense.
I take that back. They have Larry Fitzgerald and Mike Floyd, but nobody to throw it to them and nobody to run the ball.
The offensive line is in shambles, and the quarterbacks have been hurt, ineffective and sometimes both at the same time. The Vikings are coming off a game where they were less physical than we had seen them previously, and now is the time to really get out there and lay the wood on someone.
Expect Chad Greenway, Jared Allen and even the water boy to be in the backfield and hammering whomever draws the short straw and ends up quarterback for Arizona.
They can't get too complacent, because Larry Fitzgerald is a threat almost no matter who is throwing him the ball. Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook will have to be physical at the line with him and still watch as he tries top go over their heads for a catch.
Still, this defense should have no issue shutting the Arizona offense down.
It's going to come down to whether the Vikings can move the ball against this tough Arizona defense. While it is tough, it's not perfect and can be run and passed on.
In the end, these defenses will pound on the offenses—but the Vikings have the weapons on offense to overcome.
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