Vikings-Cardinals game plan

The Vikings might want to try to control the ball and keep Arizona's dangerous receivers on the sidelines, but there will be a temptation to pass early and often once again. Plus, get a few matchups to watch in Sunday night's game.


Quarterback Brett Favre threw for a season-high 392 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday against Chicago and he very well might keep putting the ball in the air this weekend against the Cardinals.

Arizona's pass defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, giving up 258.3 yards per game. The Vikings, meanwhile, have climbed to seventh in passing offense (260.8 yard per game) and while Brad Childress always will consider himself a run-first coach, more and more Minnesota is finding it makes more sense to try to find success in the air.

That's because no team is going to allow Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson to beat them and a club like the Cardinals is better playing against the run than the pass.

The Vikings' pass defense also is going to be in for a test, although it remains uncertain if Arizona is going to have the services of quarterback Kurt Warner. The veteran sat out last week against Tennessee because of issues he had after suffering a concussion.

Arizona has the fifth-best passing attack in the NFL (265.2 yards per game) and the Vikings defense is 19th against the pass (229.1 yards per game). The Vikings have been without cornerback Antoine Winfield (foot) the past five games, and if the veteran doesn't play Sunday that could be a setback as the Vikings try to slow Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and company.

The Cardinals have had more success with the run of late but are still ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing. The Vikings have moved up to No. 2 in run defense.


The Cardinals must be able to run the ball productively to keep the Vikings' pass rush off the quarterback. They also will use a variety of quick screens to receivers and backs. They are going to need some big plays, too, because the Vikings will score. The Cardinals secondary needs to play better than it did last week. The Vikings have weapons at receiver and the Cardinals need a more consistent pass rush.


Vikings CB Cedric Griffin, who holds the team lead with three interceptions, vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who is third in the NFL with 75 receptions. Griffin played one of the best games of his four-year career on Sunday against Chicago and will definitely get a tough test when he is matched up against Fitzgerald on Sunday. Griffin had a pick against Bears quarterback Jay Cutler but the reality is Chicago's receiving corps can't hold a candle to what the Cardinals have to offer. Griffin did have an interception against Arizona last season in the Vikings' victory at University of Phoenix Stadium in December.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who has lost five of six fumbles this season, vs. Cardinals inside linebackers. The Cardinals' linebackers are banged up, Karlos Dansby left last weekend's loss to Tennessee because of injury but you can bet that whoever plays at the two inside sports is going to go right after the ball every time they get a chance against Peterson. The Pro Bowl running back lost two balls, turning over one, last Sunday against Chicago as Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer did an excellent job of going for the strip. Peterson also was stripped of the ball earlier this season against the Packers by linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. That is clearly becoming the blueprint for how to get the ball away from Peterson.

Cardinals DE Darnell Dockett vs. Vikings RT Phil Loadholt. Dockett is explosive and has a strong lower body. He plays with great leverage, and Loadholt is a rookie. Dockett needs to dominate this matchup and make plays in the backfield for the Cardinals to slow the Vikings.

Cardinals LT Mike Gandy/Jeremy Bridges vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen. Gandy has played well over the past month, but he's struggling with a pelvic injury and is listed as doubtful. Bridges will start if Gandy can't. Either one will have a difficult time with Allen, who has 12.5 sacks. The Cardinals usually don't give their tackles a lot of help but they will need to in this game.

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