Posted on

Rolling Cardinals ready for battered Vikings

Rolling Cardinals ready for battered Vikings

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Coming off their worst home loss in 31 years, the Minnesota Vikings barely had time to catch their icy breath before heading to the warmth of Arizona.

Now, beaten up and missing three of their best defensive players, the Vikings must meet one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Meanwhile, heading into their Thursday night matchup, the Cardinals (10-2) are on a roll. Coach Bruce Arians’ high-scoring outfit has won six straight, the franchise’s longest winning streak in 41 years.

Only Carolina (12-0) has a better record. The Cardinals have a two-game lead over Minnesota and Green Bay for the No. 2 seed in the NFC, which carries a first-round bye. “We know where we sit,” Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said. “We know how important each game is. You can’t help but notice it, and hear about it. … This game means so much for us for that seed that we’re all shooting for. We’re very focused on that and we understand all the circumstances around us.”

The Cardinals didn’t break a sweat in practice this week, doing walk-throughs so well coach Bruce Arians said, “we’re walked out.”

“’The big thing in short weeks is regaining that energy and passion to play the game on that short of notice,” Arians said, “but I think our guys will be more than ready.”

Despite their offensive struggles — the Vikings are ranked 30th — Minnesota is in the thick of the postseason conversation at 8-4 and tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North. But that 38-7 loss at home to the Seahawks lurks uncomfortably close in the rearview mirror.

“We didn’t play good in any team phase,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had two punts blocked. They got an interception right before the half. We couldn’t get the quarterback on the ground. It was ‘Bad News Bears’ all the way around.”

Expect the Vikings to give Adrian Peterson the ball a bit more last week. The NFL’s leading rusher with 1,182 yards this season managed just 8 in nine carries as Minnesota abandoned the running game after falling far behind Seattle early.


The Vikings will missing three of their best defensive players, an ominous sign against the high-powered Cardinals. Safety Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring), linebacker Anthony Barr (hand/groin) and DT Linval Joseph (foot) all out.

Smith and Barr were injured again early last week against Seattle, and the Seahawks shredded a defense that had been one of the best units in the league when all three standouts were healthy.

Safeties Robert Blanton and Antone Exum also are injured, forcing the Vikings to make some emergency moves just to get some healthy bodies to suit up.

Arizona has sold out all 100 games since University of Phoenix Stadium open. The Cardinals are 17-4 at home in three seasons under Arians.

Social Share