The Arizona Cardinals travel to Mall of America Field to take on the Minnesota Vikings in week 7 of the NFL season. The Cardinals and Vikings are both coming out off of disappointing losses and will be looking to bounce back this week. The Cardinals will try to maintain a share of the lead in the NFC West and the Vikings don’t want to fall behind the tough Chicago Bears in the NFC North.
The Cardinal are going to rely on their defense in this game because their first choice at quarterback, Kevin Kolb, went down last week and will miss some time. John Skelton will get the nod, but he is really not that much worse than Kolb. This is still not a good thing because Kolb is not the greatest thing to ever happen to the Cardinals.
The Vikings will come into this game looking to stomp on the Cardinals. They lost last week to rookie QB Robert Griffin III and they hope they will not have a repeat performance. So, without waiting any longer lets take a look at the probable starting lineups and highlight three key players from each team.
Quarterback: John Skelton (probable)
Running back: LaRod Stephens-Howling
Fullback: Anthony Sherman (Questionable)
Wide receiver: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts
Tight end: Jeff King
Offensive line (from the left): D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie
Quarterback: Christian Ponder
Running back: Adrian Peterson (Probable)
Full back: Jerome Felton
Wide Receiver: Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson (Probable)
Tight end: Kyle Rudolph
Offensive line (From the left): Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt
Cardinals’ Defense (Base 3-4)
Defensive line: DE Calais Campbell, DT Dan Williams, DE Darnell Dockett (questionable)
Linebackers: OLB O’Brien Schofield (questionable), MLB Daryl Washington, MLB Paris Lenon, OLB Sam Acho
Secondary: CB Patrick Peterson, CB William Gay, SS Adrian Wilson, FS Kerry Rhodes (questionable)
Vikings’ Defense (Base 4-3)
Defensive line: DE Brian Robison, DT Kevin Williams, DT Letroy Guion, DE Jared Allen (Probable)
Linebackers: WLB Erin Henderson, MLB Jasper Brinkley, SLB Chad Greenway
Secondary: CB Antoine Winfield (probable), CB Chris Cook, SS Robert Blanton (probable), FS Harrison Smith
(Side note: It looks like the Cardinals will bring home the trophy this week in a contest between who has the sweetest names. The Vikings’s names are just too boring, so that makes two in a row for the Cardinals. )
Arizona’s Key Players
John Skelton will start for the first time since week 1 of the NFL season. He is younger than Kolb and has a lot more upside. He may not be the best QB for the Cardinals, but with the injury to Kevin Kolb, he is their only option. For the Cardinals to win, Skelton cannot turn the ball over. He must play the game not to lose and the Cardinals will win. Nobody knows how Skelton will play on Sunday. He could blow up the Vikings defense or he could throw 4 picks and the Cardinals could get blown out.
The Cardinals cannot let an ailing Adrian Peterson beat them on Sunday. It will be up to the entire defensive line to help out, so the linebackers can fly around. Dockett, Campbell, and Williams must plug up the holes. This can be a tough thing to do with a 3-4 scheme, but it is possible. The defense has to win this game. The offense will not get the job done.
The Cardinals offensive line should be another key to this game, but I get tired of being disappointed every week because the Cardinals can’t block. For the first time ever in the history of sports, exaggerating of course, I will choose the kicker, Jay Feely, as the third key player of this game. This is going to be a defensive battle and the Cardinals probably won’t get close enough, so it will be up to Feely to boot 45 plus yarders all day long.
Minnesota’s Key Players
Percy Harvin is leading the league in catches and is well on his way to his first 1,000 yard season. Harvin is probable this week, but the Cardinals will be focused on Peterson, so he will add to his league leading totals, which includes receptions and yards after the catch.
Christian Ponder can make or break this game by the way he plays. His quarterback rating shows that he is starting to grow into the quarterback the Vikings wanted. His record shows he can and wants to win. Well, everybody wants to win, or at least I hope, but still his poise for a second year man is nothing short of spectacular.
Finally, we are going to go with a defensive player, but I wonder who? Who else? Jared Allen has four sacks this season and must be counting down the days until he gets to go against an offensive line that has given up 22 sacks in the past 3 games. If Allen get to the quarterback more than once, Skelton is going to be throwing the ball to the defensive backs like it’s his job.
I have enjoyed watching the Cardinals play this year and for some reason they like to go against whatever I predict. My record this season fell to 1-5 last week when I predicted the Cardinals to blow the Buffalo Bills out of the University of Phoenix Stadium. So, for the sake of Cardinals fans around the world, I will predict the Cardinals to lose.
Prediction: Arizona 15, Minnesota 16 (For those of you trying to do the math, it’s 5 field goals for the Cardinals and 3 field goals and a touchdown for the Vikings.)