Cleat Geeks

Thursday Night Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs Arizona Cardinals

 

Two of the best NFC teams of the season will square off in the desert this Thursday night. The Vikings will be coming off a poor performance where their offense failed to generate any points. They will surely be tested against a tough, balanced Cardinals team who looks to extend their winning streak to seven games.

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The Vikings come into this game 8-4 tying the Packers for the best record in the NFC North. After the disappointing showing last week against Seattle, they will look to get some kind of revenge on the NFC West. Unfortunately, they will have to do so without two of their best defensive playmakers: Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith. If this wasn’t bad enough, they will also be missing Linval Joseph and Andrew Sendejo from their starting defensive unit. Ouch. This is not a great week for the Vikings to be missing defensive guys since they are going up against a Cardinals offense that averages 31.8 points per game. As the USATSI_7463067_160074578_lowresVikings showed last week, they are not built to play from behind, so they will need some guys do step up on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively the Vikings are Adrian Peterson and ten other guys to make room for Adrian Peterson. This is why it was strange that they gave A.P. only eight carries last game. I am assuming they did this because they knew that they played Arizona on a short week, so they wanted him to be as fresh as possible. Even though it’s a stretch, the Vikings could still move ahead of Arizona and get the #2 seed in the NFC. I know you may think that I’m just not showing the rest of the Vikings’ offense respect, but the way the offense is built, it really is all A.P. In fact, he has accounted for 36.14% of the team’s total yards, which is pretty crazy for a player that isn’t a quarterback. If you combine both A.P. and Stefon Diggs’ yards, they account for over 53% of the offense. They are one of the better teams in the NFC so far this season, but an offense like this is unfortunately not built for a postseason run.

Alternatively, the Cardinals have all the makings of a potential Super Bowl champion! The offense led by Carson Palmer is averaging 429.3 yards per game, while the defense is only giving up only 329.1 yards. Palmer is having his best statistical season of his 12-year career with 3,693 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He clearly has enjoyed throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd, and J.J. Nelson. Fitzgerald, who just reached 1,000 career receptions, has also enjoyed one of his most productive seasons by ranking in the top-10 for targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. One of the biggest surprises of the whole NFL season has been the comeback of Chris Johnson. He has put together his most productive season since 2012 when he was still on the Titans. Unfortunately, Johnson suffered a fractured tibia a couple weeks ago, so he will be out for the next few weeks. The rookie David Johnson filled in for him last week, and he played well totaling 120 yards and a touchdown.

 

Fantasy:

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Much like last week, fantasy points for the Vikings will be scarce. The one player that is starting in most fantasy leagues will obviously be A.P. While I don’t think he will play like he has for the majority of the year, his performance should still be better than it was last week. We can pretty much guarantee that he will get more than eight carries, but what he does with them is the question. I think he will finish with 55-75 rushing yards and a touchdown. Most people have not been starting Teddy Bridgewater, but I will discuss him and the passing game in case you’re in a deeper league. Teddy will finish with around 200 yards passing, and most of the yards will be split between Rudolph, Diggs, and Wallace. Rudolph is the only one I’d think of starting, and I think he finishes with 5-7 catches for 50-60 yards. He will also be the receiving threat in the red zone. Diggs has slowed down in recent weeks, but he will always have the chance at 40-60 yards. Normally a good start, the Vikings D/ST should not be started in any formats this week.

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Since the Vikings will be so shorthanded, the Cardinals should have a great offensive performance on Thursday. Carson Palmer will continue his productive play by throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Fitzgerald will have 7-10 catches for 60-85 yards, Brown will have 3-5 catches for 50-80 yards, and both Floyd and Nelson will have 2-4 catches of their own. It’s difficult to tell who will get the scores, but I’m going to guess it’s Fitzgerald, Floyd, and Nelson. David Johnson will also have a pretty productive day all alone in the backfield. He should be able to produce 85-125 total yards with a touchdown.

 

Prediction:

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If you couldn’t tell from what I wrote about the Cardinals up to this point, I think they are really good. I know #Analysis. I am also concerned about how the shorthanded Vikings intend to match-up with arguably the best offense in the league. Because of this, I have to pick the Cardinals to beat the Vikings 31-17. 

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