Vikings-Cardinals game plan

The Vikings have plenty of issues on and off the field, but they could find some comfort on the field this week as their schedule eases up a bit … if they can actually afford to look at things that way. Plus, get the matchups to watch for Sunday's game.

VIKINGS

The Vikings (2-5) have issues but they figure to have a very good chance to straighten things out for the short term against another struggling team.

The Cardinals also have lost two in a row and are struggling on both sides of the ball. Arizona's offense is ranked 31st in the NFL and its defense is 27th.

The decision to place Randy Moss on waivers should make life easier for an Arizona pass defense that is ranked 21st in the NFL and enable the Cardinals to send more men into the box to try to contain Adrian Peterson.

Brett Favre, who is expected to play despite a litany of injuries, could look to get Bernard Berrian more involved or go back to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe as a main target if the passing opportunities exist.

Arizona is near the bottom of the NFL against the run, so the Vikings also might want to simply hand the ball to Peterson and allow the NFL's leading rusher to see what he can do no matter how many men are in the box at times.

Defensively, the Vikings have not recorded a sack in three games. The Vikings struggled in the second half last Sunday at New England and there is little question the run defense isn't as good as it has been in previous seasons.

Nonetheless, the Cardinals have not been a major threat on the ground or via the air as their quarterback situation remains unsettled. This could be a good game for this unit to get back on track.

CARDINALS

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

Vikings CB Asher Allen, who has been picked on consistently of late, vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the team with 35 receptions for 403 yards and four touchdowns. Allen had a tough go of it last Sunday and it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals attempt to get this matchup at times. If it does happen, Allen is going to need some safety help. Fitzgerald, who is 6-3, 218 pounds, has a big advantage (literally) over the 5-9, 194-pound Allen. It also will be interesting to see if Chris Cook is able to rebound from a leg injury to help in this game. Cook is 6-2, 212 pounds and a far more physical corner who could jam Fitzgerald at the line of scrimmage.

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.


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