Game Preview: Cardinals @ Vikings

After falling behind in their division races, both the Cardinals and Vikings enter Sunday's matchup in dire need of a victory.

GAME PLAN: Ken Whisenhunt faces a difficult choice in devising an offensive game plan. The Cardinals need to play conservatively because coaches can't trust the quarterbacks. Yet, the Vikings' defense is most vulnerable in the secondary, so it's hard to pass up favorable matchups. Whisenhunt will try to find some middle ground. Getting running back Beanie Wells off to a solid start will be important. Defensively, the Cardinals will commit resources to stopping running back Adrian Peterson. They think quarterback Brett Favre will give them some interception opportunities, so they won't mind if the game is in his hands.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Cardinals LT Levi Brown vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen. Allen has only sack this season but he's still a threat. Brown has played well over the past month, and the Cardinals did a solid job against Allen last year, holding him without a sack. But Jeremy Bridges played left tackle in that game.

--Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson vs. Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe. Tight ends have given the Cardinals trouble occasionally over the past few years. Shiancoe is a physical player but then so is Wilson. Wilson will be used in a variety of positions but occasionally will have coverage responsibility for Shiancoe.

--Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Vikings CB Antoine Winfield. The Vikings secondary has been porous with the exception of Winfield. The Cardinals are having a hard time getting the ball to Fitzgerald consistently. Fitzgerald is returning home to Minneapolis so he will want to have a big game.


Inside linebacker Gerald Hayes could start on the strong side this week, with Paris Lenon moving to the weak side. Rookie Daryl Washington would come off the bench in a situational and reserve role. The club is getting some solid play out of safety Rashad Johnson in dime packages. In the dime, the Cardinals often move starting safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes close to the line of scrimmage.

INJURY IMPACT: RB Beanie Wells has swelling in his right knee, the same one that was operated on in September. Wells missed practice on Wednesday and his prognosis for Sunday's game is unknown.

--OLB Clark Haggans could miss his second consecutive game because of a groin injury. Will Davis would start in his place with rookie O'Brien Schofield serving as the backup.

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