KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
SERIES: 19th regular-season meeting. Series is tied, 9-9, but Vikings have won two playoff games between the teams. The Vikings beat the Cardinals, 31-26, in the last meeting on Nov. 26, 2006 at the Metrodome.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 30-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: Whether it's Gus Frerotte or Tarvaris Jackson under center, the Vikings' approach won't change. Arizona allows just 96.5 rushing yards per game, but Minnesota will nevertheless pound away with RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor to set up shots off play-action. Minnesota needs to own time of possession to protect its defense, and Frerotte and Jackson are both far more effective after the ground game has been established. ...
Arizona is ranked last in the NFL with 75.4 rushing yards per game and will make only a token effort against Minnesota stout run defense. This game will be won or lost through the air for Arizona. The
Key for the Vikings is getting a strong pass rush or QB Kurt Warner will dissect their soft Cover-2. But Warner does have six interceptions and two fumbles the past four games, with most of the mistakes coming while under duress.
KEY INJURIES: Vikings: DE Jared Allen (knee, shoulder) will play; Frerotte (lower back) will be a game-day decision. Cardinals: OLB Clark Haggans (foot) is out.
FAST FACTS: Peterson needs 109 yards to break Robert Smith's single-season franchise record of 1,521 rushing yards set in 2000. ... With one more touchdown pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald, Warner would become the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 10 to two different receivers (Anquan Boldin has 11).
--DTs Kevin and Pat Williams could be set to play the rest of the season after a federal judge extended his injunction against the NFL's four-game suspensions levied upon five players in the StarCaps case. A hearing may not take place for months now.
--DE Jared Allen sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday after injuring his knee on Sunday in Detroit. Allen, already playing with a shoulder injury, hurt the knee when he was blocked low in the first half against the Lions. Allen admitted he thought the injury might be season ending at first but he was able to continue wearing a sleeve-like brace on the knee. He finished with two sacks.
--RT Artis Hicks did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an elbow injury that kept him out of the Nov. 30 game against Chicago. Hicks played the entire game at Detroit last Sunday but his status for this weekend's game at Arizona is uncertain. If Cook can't start, Ryan Cook will get the nod in his place.
--WR/KR Darius Reynaud did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a toe injury suffered on a kickoff return Sunday at Detroit.
--DE Brian Robison, who had arthroscopic knee surgery after the Vikings' victory over Chicago on Nov. 30, did limited work in practice on Thursday. His status for Sunday's game isn't certain.
--DT Ellis Wyms was absent from the beginning of practice for family reasons Thursday but he did arrive in time to take part in several drills.
Game Scout: Cardinals vs. Vikings
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