Thursday Night Football in week 13 brings us the Minnesota Vikings, bruised and beaten and maybe coming with some in house fighting as well, facing the Arizona Cardinals, where everything is just fine & dandy.
The Vikings are heading into this game after getting beaten up by the Seattle Seahawks in one of those painful reality checks. The Seahawks crushed them 38-7, and had a 35-0 lead before the Vikings got on the scoreboard. Adrian Peterson called out the coaching staff for the second time this season and then did it again when asked if he really meant it. Does it mean he’ll get more touches? It’s not difficult to figure out who has more sway in the organization, Peterson or Mike Zimmer.
The Cardinals, 10-2, aren’t too far from clinching the NFC West, something that almost sounds like science fiction from before the Bruce Arians days. But while the defense has been great for a number of years, Arians has done a great job of tailoring an offense around Carson Palmer and his strengths, or maybe mostly his weaknesses. Palmer has cut down on his turnovers (only nine interceptions in 12 games, which is great for him), and is a legitimate MVP contender this season.
The team bottom line is even more important. They’ve won six in a row, and lead the NFL in points per game (31.8), while putting the ball in the air more than anyone else and are 8th in rushing, although not having Chris Johnson should slow them down in that aspect a little bit. For a team that relies heavily on play-action, so far going with David Johnson and Andre Ellington has been enough to overcome a pretty serious injury.
The Vikings? Their defense is tied at 4th in the league along with the Cardinals by allowing 19.3 points per game, but their offense is as one dimensional as they come. Teddy Bridgewater is on the field to not make mistakes, while Peterson happily carries the ball as much as possible, unless Zimmer gets in the way. After the public scolding he got from Peterson, it’ll be interesting to see what way he chooses to play against the better Cardinals.