The last time the Minnesota Vikings played at home, they were blown out by the 17-point underdog Buffalo Bills. Two weeks later — after a somewhat satisfying split in tough road games — the Vikings are trying to get their record above .500 and their season officially back on track with a win over the 1-4 Arizona Cardinals.
Let’s glance at some of the storylines.
VIKINGS’ OFFENSE vs CARDINALS’ DEFENSE
There should be a great chance for the Vikings to get their running game jumpstarted against an Arizona defense that has allowed the second-most yards in the league and 120-plus yards on the ground in four out of five games. Dalvin Cook (hamstring) is reportedly on a snap restriction once again, however.
DE Chandler Jones and CB Patrick Peterson are the Cardinals’ biggest defensive playmakers, but will they be able to do enough against a Vikings offense that has been clicking in the passing game? Adam Thielen is currently riding a five-game streak of 100-yard receiving games, but any team that devotes too much attention to Thielen is liable to get burned by Stefon Diggs. The Vikings’ receiving duo is realizing its full potential through the first five games of the season, overshadowing the team’s inability to run the football efficiently.
Third down and red zone opportunities will, of course, be huge. The Cardinals are 29th in third-down defense, allowing teams to convert at 42 percent. They’ve also allowed touchdowns in 12 of 18 red zone trips.
VIKINGS’ DEFENSE vs CARDINALS’ OFFENSE
The Vikings get another chance to prove their worth against an inexperienced rookie quarterback. Josh Rosen has struggled with accuracy in his first two starts, particularly a week ago when he was afflicted by overthrows.
The Vikings get Trae Waynes back from a concussion but won’t have safety Andrew Sendejo (groin). It will likely mark the first start for former Bengal George Iloka.
Rookie speedster Christian Kirk and sure-handed legend Larry Fitzgerald Jr. will be the biggest receiving threats. Expect Waynes to pair up with Kirk and Xavier Rhodes to shadow Fitzgerald.
Minnesota has struggled against tight ends in virtually every game this season, so get used to the name Ricky Seals-Jones. He’s been targeted 25 times this season but only has 10 catches.
Maybe the Buffalo loss was good for Minnesota in a strange way?
The Vikings enter a relatively soft spot of their schedule with no excuse to overlook an opponent as they try to play catch up following two early losses. Arizona hasn’t won in Minnesota since 1977, and Sunday shouldn’t be any different.
Vikings 27, Cardinals 14