Coming off their first win of the season, the Arizona Cardinals will migrate north in week six to take on the 2-2-1 Minnesota Vikings in their $1 billion home, U.S. Bank Stadium. Kirk Cousins, the Vikings new quarterback and $84 million man has been playing better than he ever has, so why are the Vikings already one loss away from matching their total number of losses in 2017?
For starters, they lack the ability to run the football. Cousins can play as good as he wants but it’s very difficult to win games when you are one dimensional. The Vikings 65.8 yards rushing per game is so bad that the only team that has rushed for less is the Arizona Cardinals (64.6). Second year running back Dalvin Cook was looking to bounce back this season after missing 12 games to injury in 2017 but a lingering hamstring injury has already kept him out of two contest in 2018. Cook is again questionable to play on Sunday.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings have taken a step back in all aspects, but where it’s truly noticeable is in the passing game. Last season the Vikings had the second ranked pass defense only giving up 192.4 yards per game. This season they are giving up 278.6 yards a game which has in turn allowed them to give up 26.2 points a game – tied for 22nd place.
Both teams will surely look to gain momentum in the run game, but when all is said and done this game will likely be determined by the pass game, and by who makes more plays on defense. Should Cardinals Offensive Coordinator, Mike McCoy, decide to open up his playbook, rookies Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk could end up having a few more big plays. Last week, Rosen and Kirk connected for a 75-yard touchdown on the Cardinals first play from scrimmage.
On the other side of the ball, Patrick Peterson and company will have to worry about one of the league’s best receiving duos in Vikings Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Thielen is ranked second in receiving yards and the pair have already combined for 991 yards and six touchdowns. Looking to slow that passing attack will be Cardinals defensive end, Chandler Jones. Vikings left tackle, Riley Reiff, has already been ruled out because of a foot injury which could result in another big day for Jones. Chandler was awarded NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors due to his performance last Sunday against the 49ers. Jones finished that game with six tackles (two for a loss), a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Once again Arizona heads in to the contest underdogs, which will likely be the case for every game from here on out – other than their home game against the 49ers. The Vikings are favored by 10 points. A loss by either team could result in each team sitting in last place in their respected divisions. Kickoff is scheduled for 10am, Pacific Time.
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