The Arizona Cardinals play host to the Minnesota Viking on Sunday afternoon from State Farm Stadium in a crucial NFC matchup. The Vikings play their second straight road game after losing a heartbreaker to the Bengals in week one. For the Cardinals, an away win over the Titans in dominating fashion put the NFL on notice that this team might be a contender this season. The Cardinals know how important every win is for them given how difficult the NFL West looks this season. For the Vikings, after years of contending in the NFC North, the bar has been set pretty low by the fanbase this season and after their opening loss, it's understandable to see why. These two teams haven't met often, the last time being in 2018, and the Vikings have won two in a row and five of the last six overall. With the rosters looking completely different now though, it's hard to reach much into their recent success in the recent meetings. Regardless, Sunday's meeting will be a must-see game for the late afternoon slate given the Vikings' reluctance to start 0-2 and the Cardinals' confidence coming off their road win the opener.
Line Movements & Weather
The Cardinals have gone from -2.5 up to -3.5 at most sportsbooks while garnering 64% of the bets.
The OU line has gone from 49.5 up to 50.5 at most sportsbooks with the Over snatching up 66% of the bets.
Gametime Weather: Domed Stadium
Vikings Looking For BouncebackThe Vikings jumped out to an early lead on the road against the Bengals last weekend, only to have to battle back from ten points down in the fourth quarter and lose in overtime. It was a brutal way for the season to start for one of the teams with likely the highest floor and maybe lowest ceiling, at least in the NFC North. The Vikings have a strong core of offensive players but their depth was tested last week and will continue to be tested, especially on the defensive side of things. Besides the final score, the Vikings were only outplayed on the ground and had a turnover, but definitely looked like the part of a winning team when watching the game. Injuries do continue to mount for the team though, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Barr (knee), Everson Griffen (concussion), Harrison Hand (hamstring), Eric Kendricks (quadriceps), and Nick Vigil (ankle), are all potential defensive starters that are questionable for Sunday's game heading into the weekend. The good news is that the offense is healthy though and has the talent to put up points against any defense in the league, including the Cardinal's vaunted group.
The Vikings put together a strong offensive gameplan against the Bengals and will surely need to bring that same energy and excitement on Sunday if they want to hang with Arizona's offense. Kirk Cousins remains the undisputed leader at quarterback and showed why in the opener. He went 36-49 for 351 yards and two touchdowns and will need every bit of that same urgency on Sunday. Dalvin Cook on the other hand struggled and the offense only put together 67 rushing yards total. In a game in which winning the possession battle is going to be key, they'll need a heavy improvement in that facet of the game. Not to be forgotten is one of the better receiving cores in the NFL North. Between Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, plus Cook's ability out of the backfield, the Vikings have the ability to test Arizona's secondary. They'll need their offensive line to step up in a big way though. They allowed three sacks to the Bengals and will have their hands full in a big way against the Cardinals' front seven. In what might be the key to the game, it'll be interesting to see how Minnesota handles what Arizona can throw at them defensively, knowing that they'll need a big night from Cousins and company to come away with the road win.
Defensively, the Vikings were a mess last week. With it being Burrow's first game back for the Bengals, who also had a young offensive group, to see Minnesota allow 27 points was a concern. Minnesota was able to put some pressure on the backfield, sacking Burrow five times, and will need to do more of the same on Sunday to avoid mismatches in the secondary. The injuries are a massive concern though and even if only one or two of the defensive players listed as questionable can go, it'll do wonders for a defense that needs all of the help that it can get. Minnesota will need to try to force the Cardinals into one part of the offense. Last week against the Bengals, they allowed them to get too comfortable in both the ground and air attack, and that lack of consistency really plagued Minnesota's ability to read much of what was coming. Eric Kendricks will at least be available, after leading the team with 15 total tackles last week. One other player to keep out for is Bashaud Breeland, who had seven tackles last week but will have his hands full with the Cardinals' receiving group. Minnesota's ability to pressure Murray will be crucial, as the secondary doesn't have the weapons currently to stay in coverage with everything that Arizona can throw at them.
Out - DB Harrison Hand, OT Christian Darrisaw, LB Anthony Barr, DE Everson Griffen, WR Chad Beebe, RB Kene Nwangwu, WR Dan Chisena, and TE Irv Smith Jr.
Cardinals Look To Keep Momentum GoingThe Cardinals put a shock across the NFL last Sunday with their dismantling of the Titans on the road. Not only did they score the second-most points in the league but their defense was outstanding and will be looking forward to the opportunity at hand against Minnesota. Against the Titans, the Cardinals outgained them by over 160 yards, won the turnover battle, and dominated the time of possession as well. The balance on both sides of the ball has Arizona looking like a contender in at least the NFC West and it's hard to see the Vikings being able to take them down, considering their struggles last week against a Bengals team that isn't expected to do much in the league. One advantage for the Cardinals is their health. Kelvin Beachum (ribs) and Devon Kennard (hamstring) are two key pieces that could miss Sunday's game. The good news is that Charles Washington (thigh) is probable and the offense comes into Sunday with a clean bill of health. The Cardinals will also have the home-field advantage as well and after last week's road win, the home faithful will be nothing short of excited to welcome the Cardinals into the 2021 season after all the turmoil over the past few seasons. Expect the Cardinals to make life tough for the visiting team on Sunday and to have a good chance at coming away with an easy win at home.
My five Cardinals players to watch Sunday vs Minnesota:— Kevin Parrish Jr (@KevinParrishJr) September 16, 2021
The Cardinals look like they could end up having one of the best offenses in all of the NFL this season after putting up 38 points on the road last week. The early start time didn't impact them a bit and now heading home, the offense should only flourish even more. Murray had one of the best games of his career, throwing for four touchdowns but did turn it over once. He also added a rushing touchdown, while the balancing act of Chase Edmonds and James Conner seemed to work initially, as the three combined for 136 rushing yards. De'Andre Hopkins remains one of the top receivers in the league and the Vikings will likely have some trouble slowing him down after getting torched by the Bengals through the air last week. Both Hopkins and Christian Kirk added two touchdowns, while Rondale Moore showed how elusive he can be as a unique wrinkle in the offense. The Cardinals protected Murray well last week and after seeing how Burrow and company did against the Vikings, should have some excitement and confidence heading into their own chance to have a big day.
Arizona's offensive dominance was probably slightly overshadowed by their defensive dominance on Sunday. They sacked Tannehill six times and allowed only 248 yards of total offense, including only 86 rushing yards. With Minnesota's struggles running the ball in the opener, it wouldn't be a surprise to see those same struggles continue. The Cardinals also forced three turnovers and for an offense as dominant as they are, teams cannot lose the turnover battle against them. Chandler Jones is the leader and will make life miserable for the Vikings. He had six total tackles, including five sacks and six quarterback hits last week, and shouldn't have any issues making his presence know to Cousins. One to keep an eye out for is Isaiah Simmons, the former Clemson do-it-all player. He led the way with nine tackles and two pass deflections last week and his ability to be everywhere on the field and cover multiple schemes and positions is something that will give the Vikings plenty of trouble figuring out.
Out - LB Devon Kennard, LB Dennis Gardeck, WR Antoine Wesley, and DE Jordan Phillips
Questionable - OL Kelvin Beachum and TE Darrell Daniels
The top team trends, according to covers.com, are: - Vikings are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games overall. - Vikings are 0-6 ATS in their last six games against NFC competition.
The top team trends, according to covers.com, are: - Cardinals are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games after allowing fewer than 15 points in their previous game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Arizona looks like they shouldn't have an issue taking care of many teams after their week one dominance over the Titans on the road. Given it was only week one, the game still showed how strong this Arizona team can be. Their offense is elite and after seeing Minnesota's struggles with the Bengals last week defensively, one has to think that Murray, Hopkins, and Kirk, won't have any issue finding the endzone consistently this week. Defensively, their ability to pressure the quarterback appears that it might be unmatched this season and six sacks against Tannehill will leave Cousins running for his life back there. The major key, beyond the home crowd, is the Cardinals' ability to stop the run, which should keep Minnesota pretty one-dimensional and keep Cook out of the game, while also staying completely balanced on their own side of things. For Minnesota, the struggles running the ball in week one come at a bad time given their opponent for Sunday. The Vikings have a pass rush that might be able to get to Murray but in the end, their defense doesn't have the talent in the back to stop Hopkins or Kirk when Murray does become elusive and escape pressure. Expect the Cardinals to do much of the same to Minnesota as they did to Tennessee and this looks like it could be one of the more overmatched games of the day.
Full-Game Total Pick
Arizona showed in week one that putting up points isn't an issue for them. Given Minnesota's struggles in the secondary as well, it wouldn't be a surprise to see more of the same from Arizona's offense on Sunday as fans saw in their opener against the Titans. The Vikings should be able to move the ball slightly better than Tennessee did. They have better balance offensively and with their athleticism at wide receiver and Cousins' strong opening play, will like their chances to get some solid scoring drives together themselves. Add in that both quarterbacks are prone to an interception or two and short fields could help improve scoring even more. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Minnesota, the over is 4-0 in their last four games overall, is 4-0 in their last four games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, is 4-0 in their last four games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game, is 4-0 in their last four games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game, and is 9-0 in their last nine games following a straight-up loss. For Arizona, the over is 4-0 in their last four games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game.