As the Arizona Cardinals prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings today, it is clear that it is a big game for both teams. For Arizona, it is a chance to get back on track after two straight losses. They have not won since October 10th against New Orleans. It is also a chance for quarterback Derek Anderson to redeem himself for that awful interception he threw at the end of the Tampa Bay Bucs game last week.
As for the Vikings, the game might mean more to them in the long run. Quarterback Brett Favre has had a couple of tumultuous weeks with various injuries, they waived receiver Randy Moss, and head coach Brad Childress could be on his way out of town if they lose to the Cards on Sunday. Oh, and let's not forget about the 2-5 record that becomes 2-6 if they lose and virtually ending any hopes of the Vikings making the playoffs.
So what do the Cards need to do in order to pull off an upset in Minnesota on Sunday? Well, a lot of things really, but here are my five keys to winning up north today.
1. Limit turnovers. Cards are 31-3 in the coach Ken Whisenhunt era when they win or tie the turnover battle. Obviously turnovers have killed the Cardinals the past two weeks. Those turnovers are a direct result of the Cards being 3-4 and not 5-2.
2. No stupid penalties. This should be a given and a key for every team wanting to win. However, in a noisy place like The Metrodome, false starts can be killers. The Cards seemed to manage that aspect ok in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, but these fans can be just as rowdy and it's indoors.
3. Keep balance. That is, a balance between running and passing the ball. Utilizing Beanie Wells in the running game to the fullest, meaning 20-25 runs, will give the Cards their best chance at winning. Now, in order to keep balance, they will have to achieve keys one and two. Otherwise, DA might throw the ball 40-50 times much like Matt Leinart had to do four years ago up in Minnesota when coming from behind.
4. Keep the Vikings off balance. How do you do that? By running trick plays. Now, I'm not saying to run five or six, because then it just gets ridiculous. However throw a wrench or two into the game plan. At least it keeps the Vikings thinking.
5. Hit Favre and often. You saw what happened when Favre got rattled last season against the Cards. Favre is also injured but of course being selfish and playing. I don't blame him completely though. He's getting paid $16 million to lead his team nowhere. Now, although Tavaris Jackson isn't regarded as a huge threat by any means, let's not forget what he did a couple of years ago in dismantling the Cards at home. So, when it comes to the Cards, which is the lesser of two evils? It won't matter though, Favre could have his leg amputated and say he is still good to go.