The Vikings need to use their fifth-ranked run defense to take Cardinals running back Beanie Wells and his 5.4-yard average and five rushing TDs out of the game. With that accomplished, the Vikings can feed off the Metrodome noise level to put extra pressure on QB Kevin Kolb. The Vikings then need to double cover or at least roll a safety to Larry Fitzgerald and force one of the Cardinals' other receivers to beat them.
The Cardinals need to figure out a remedy for their red zone woes. They blew chances last week that would have given them a big early lead against the Giants. Some of the problem is second down. When faced with second-and-short situations, the Cardinals haven't had success in trying to score on plays. They might have to adjust and just run Beanie Wells to get a first down.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton faces a dilemma when deciding to blitz. The Cardinals aren't getting to the quarterback often enough when blitzing, leaving young corners exposed. But the team's pass rush with four rushers is inconsistent, too.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings RCB Cedric Griffin, who has been beaten in game-changing deep balls the past two weeks, vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, an elite deep threat that has a 73-yard TD catch this season. Griffin won't follow Fitzgerald side to side, but he should be the primary defender on Fitzgerald. Griffin has played well overall this season. But two weeks ago, he gave up a 40-yard completion in overtime to Detroit's Calvin Johnson. The Lions kicked the game-winning field goal on the next play. Last week, Griffin fell in coverage and gave up a 52-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe in the fourth quarter.
Vikings MLB E.J. Henderson, who has played on a sore left knee the past three weeks, vs. Cardinals RB Beanie Wells, who has 321 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 59 carries (5.4). It's a group effort by the Vikings defense to make sure the Cardinals don't strike a balance between run and pass. The tackles need to control the interior gaps and the ends need to not get caught out of position while trying to rush the passer too eagerly. If that's taken care of, Henderson is a strong run defender. His knee has hampered him in pass coverage and limited his reps in the nickel defense. But he's still a force against the run. Wells is running with anger, and he's not going down easy. He has just three negative runs all year. The Vikings' front has been solid, and they'll need to continue to be to slow Wells.
Cardinals LT Levi Brown vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen. Allen is playing as well as anyone in the NFL now, and Brown's weakness is pass blocking. The Cardinals need to do whatever they can to give Brown help. Beanie Wells could do a better job of chip blocking.
Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Cardinals secondary. Tight ends have hurt the Cardinals the past two years. Shiancoe had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown against Arizona last season. Safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson need to help.
Vikings-Cardinals game plan
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