Arizona Cardinals favored over slumping Vikings
Not to look past any team, but the Arizona Cardinals are touchdown plus favorites on Thursday Night
The Arizona Cardinals come into Thursday Night Football, their fourth prime-time game of the season, with high expectations, but not what you might think. The team can clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight, but the focus is on Minnesota and moving ever closer to the NFC West and the coveted 2nd seed in the NFC with the Panthers seemingly on a perfect run.
In any other season the Cardinals would be competing for the 1st seed at this point in the season, but the pesky kitty cats from Carolina don’t want to give it up so it seems everyone is playing for number two. With a win over Minnesota the team would still be two games up over Green Bay (whom they play in two weeks) for the position. The team can also lock up the division with a win and a Seattle loss or tie on Sunday.
But what say the experts when the Cardinals will be the only game on tonight, and at home where they are 4-1 on the season at home in front of the Red Sea?
Elliot Harrison at NFL.com has the Cardinals on top of the defensively depleted Vikings:
"Arizona keeps moving toward a first-round bye with an in-control win over the slumping Vikings. Not that the defense ever looks under control, as defensive coordinator James Bettcher seemingly sends chaos toward the other team’s pocket time after time. But it’s controlled chaos. It’s working, too, as opposing QBs are completing a mere 53.9 percent of their passes with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in those hurried situations. This means Teddy Bridgewater will need the support of his run game, i.e., more than the eight carries for 18 yards he got from Adrian Peterson last week. #MINvsARI"
Both Nate Silvers ELO model and Microsoft’s Cortana have the Cardinals winning the game tonight with a 76% for Silver’s model and 64% for Microsoft’s Cortana. Both predictive engines were 11 out of 16 last week, not too shabby.
The Las Vegas point spread on the game is the Cardinals by eight.
Both MDS and Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk have the Cardinals putting up 30+ points on the Vikings, signaling the team was exposed last week against Seattle and a better-than-Seattle team in Arizona should make easy work of the purple-clad team.
"The Seahawks exposed the Vikings on Sunday. The Cardinals will expose them even more. And it doesn’t help that four starters are missing on defense."
Pete Prisco at CBS Sportsline has the Cardinals winning comfortably, resting on their offense to keep the Vikings shooting for the stars, something they’re not built to do.
"The Vikings are coming off a horrible loss at home to Seattle, and they are banged up. Arizona is a high-flying offense that is hard to defend when your defense is healthy. The Cardinals and Carson Palmer continue to roll."
Over at FOXSports.com, the entire panel has the Cardinals winning the game.
Over the last couple of weeks the Cardinals have settled in to the team I really think they are, early in the season they beat up on lesser teams behind fresh legs on the ground, Carson Palmer throwing the ball down field and running up the score. Against the divisional foes in San Francisco and St. Louis the team showed that it could win those hard fought games, those that are always tougher when you play something twice a year, every year.
With Cincinnati they showed that they can move the ball against a great defense, going down the field in three passes to set up a game winning field goal, penalties not withstanding. In Seattle they showed they could tangle with some of the best and put the bully to rest. The Vikings come in much like the Cardinals were in the beginning of the season, beating up on bad teams, struggling with the good, but still making a game out of it.
Last week their run ran out and now it remains to be seen what team will take the field tonight, the one that got exposed or the one that is still good, but missing a lot of starters?
The Cardinals win this game win an offense that few can keep up with, and a defense that can play lights out with the crowd behind them. Cardinals 31, Vikings 13