The Minnesota Vikings had their three-game winning streak come to an end in Week 6, as they lost 38-26 to the Washington Redskins on the road. They will return home for Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals, who have lost two games in a row after a 4-0 start, with a chance to start a new winning streak and move into sole possession of first place in the NFC North if the Chicago Bears lose to the Detroit Lions next Monday night.
The Vikings will look to fix their red zone offense this week, as they had a chance to take a big lead on the Redskins in the first quarter last week but wound up settling for three field goals. Having Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin on the field and not being afraid to use them in that area of the field will be key, and that responsibility largely falls to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Quarterback Christian Ponder will certainly have to improve too after a largely lackluster performance last week, and he now has thrown four interceptions over the last two games after going four games without an interception.
Wide receiver Jerome Simpson (back) may be able to return to action after missing last week’s game, but how much of an impact he can make is a big question. Being able to at least challenge the Arizona secondary downfield stands to be a big key for the Minnesota offense to sustain drives and open up other areas of the field against a fairly tough defense.
Things should be a lot easier for the Vikings’ defense this week after they struggled to contain Robert Griffin III last Sunday. The Cardinals will turn back to John Skelton under center with Kevin Kolb (ribs, shoulder) now out for multiple weeks, though Skelton has the throwing arm to challenge the Minnesota secondary downfield it he gets enough time to throw behind a bad offensive line. Arizona is also depleted at running back, with Chris Wells (turf toe) and Ryan Williams (shoulder) both out, but rookie William Powell was productive in their place last week with 70 yards on 13 carries against the Buffalo Bills.
The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 28 sacks this season, so the Vikings’ defensive line led by Jared Allen and Kevin Williams should have no trouble putting pressure on Skelton on a regular basis. Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still among the elite at his position, so keeping him in check will be a big key to success for the Vikings’ secondary.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Cardinals 10