As we reach week 7 of the NFL season, it’s time to find out who the real contenders are. The Minnesota Vikings are of course one of the many surprises in the league this season with their 4-2 start, however the time has come for the team to show what it’s really made of.
The Arizona Cardinals come to Minneapolis on Sunday also sitting at 4-2 in a similar position to the Vikings, still trying to prove themselves.
With that in mind let’s take a look at the keys to victory for the Vikings in Week 7:
Shut Down WR Larry Fitzgerald
I’m sure this is one of the main things on every defensive coordinator’s list in the league when they play Arizona, but it’s arguably the most important step to beating the Cardinals. It’s an old adage but still very accurate: make someone else beat you.
With a focus on limiting Fitzgerald’s production, the Vikings are only going to put themselves in better position to win this game. Notice I said limit, not stop, because you don’t stop great players like Fitzgerald.
Spread the Ball Around in the Passing Game
With Adrian Peterson‘s ankle still bothering him, the Vikings need to really throw it around the field in this game to take the pressure off their star running back.
I feel like the passing game has progressed very nicely this season. Each game the coaching staff seems to be opening things up a little more for Christian Ponder. With Jerome Simpson returning to the lineup, there will be an extra target for the second-year quarterback, and hopefully the targets to Simpson are down the field.
The vertical passing game is still missing for Minnesota, so I’d like to see Kyle Rudolph head north a little more as well. Rudolph has established himself as one of the best red zone targets in the league, but now must continue to expand his talents to other areas of the field.
Be the Better Defense
This game features two of the NFL’s top defenses. The Cardinals’ defense is allowing 329 yards per game, while the Vikings are allowing only 313.
With two top-tier defenses in action, fans can expect a fairly low scoring contest where every point will matter. Overall these two squads are evenly matched, so it might come down to what defense can make the most plays to setup points for the offense.
Odds are pretty good that one of these defenses will score some points for their team as well. A safety or pick-six would not be surprising, and a play like that could be a game clincher.
The Vikings’ defensive line seems to have a clear advantage over the Arizona offensive line. Cardinals’ quarterbacks have taken a beating this year, so Jared Allen and company figure to get a fair share of shots in on the returning John Skelton.