Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings: Preview, prediction

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The Arizona Cardinals start the month of December at home against the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football.

The Cardinals, in their 4th nationally televised game this season, will be hosting the Minnesota Vikings in a contest between 2 NFC playoff bound teams. The Vikings (8-4) are come off of a blowout loss, at home, to the Cardinals’ NFC West rival, the Seattle Seahawks, by a score of 38-7. The Cardinals (10-2) were able to avenge a Week 4 loss to the Rams by blowing them out in the Edward Jones Dome 27-3.

History: The Cardinals and the Vikings have faced each other 25 times in the regular season, and twice in the playoffs. The Cardinals played 10 of these games as the St. Louis Cardinals. The Arizona Cardinals have an all time 10-15 regular season record against the Minnesota Vikings. The latest win against the Vikings came back in Week 13 of the 2009 season. This was also a nationally televised game, and the Arizona Cardinals won by a score of 30-17 in a game where Kurt Warner finished with a 127.7 quarterback rating and receiver Anquan Boldin catching two touchdown passes.

What: Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

When: 6:25 PM Arizona Time (8:25 PM EST)

TV: NFL Network, CBS (local)

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

Keys to victory:

A week after throwing for less than 300 yards and throwing no touchdown passes in a win against the 49ers, Carson Palmer responded by throwing for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Rams. The Vikings are without a lot of  players on defense. S Harrison Smith, LB Anthony Barr, DT Linval Joseph, S Andrew Sendejo and LB Bandon Watts have all been declared out for Thursday’s game. The Vikings also placed starting safety Antone Exum Jr. on IR. These four also happen to be Minnesota’s top tacklers. The absence of these four in tomorrow’s game boasts well for Carson Palmer and the offensive line, who only surrendered 2 sacks against a formidable St. Louis Rams pass rush.

The running game played much better than anyone could have imagined against the Rams. Rookie David Johnson ran for 99 yards on 22 carries, Kerwynn Williams ran for 59 yards on 6 carries along with 1 touchdown, Stepfan Taylor ran for 20 yards on 5 carries. If the Cardinals young backs were able to torch the Rams defense for 178 yards, that’s a strong indicator that they should be able to handle the running game for the rest of the season. With the Vikings missing essentially half of their defensive units, Arians will look to run the ball down the Vikings throat.

As the injury report indicated, the Vikings will be without their 2 starting safeties, and that presents a significant disadvantage for Minnesota as Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd are all expected to play. Bruce Arians is known for his big play calling, so expect Palmer to throw deep passes early and often against this banged up secondary. Larry Fitzgerald has already reached 1000 receiving yards on the season. John Brown and Michael Floyd are 183 and 450 yards away from reaching this milestone. With 4 games left this season, the Arizona Cardinals could finish the season with 3 1000 yard receivers for the first time since 2009.