After posting their lowest number of total yards and rushing yards, and the second-lowest scoring output of the season, the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) now prepare to face the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) top ranked offense on “Thursday Night Football.”
With second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater struggling and running back Adrian Peterson rushing just eight times, Minnesota gained a mere 31 rushing yards and 125 total yards in its 38-7 loss to Seattle in Week 13.
Peterson voiced his disapproval of head coach Mike Zimmer’s choice to give him the ball, and suggested he was outcoached, and now the rest of the offense feels the pressure is on to not only snap the Cardinals six-game winning streak but to prove they have a versatile enough offense to stay in the NFC playoff hunt.
“We got to do better for us to go where we want to go. We have to give Teddy more time, open up more holes for AP,” guard Mike Harris told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “That’s the game plan this week. If we don’t do that, it’s going to be very hard to win. This is what it is. I put pressure on myself to do better than last week. And I know I can.”
Bridgewater, who went 17-for-28 for 118 yards and one interception, has thrown just two touchdowns in the last five games and recorded a passer rating lower than 73 in three of those contests, which seems like reason enough to feed Peterson more even though he already leads the NFL in carries and rushing yards.
But according to The Star-Tribune, top Viking defenders like free safety Harrison Smith, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and linebacker Anthony Barr are all expected to sit out against the Cardinals, intensifying the pressure on Minnesota’s offense to keep up with an Arizona unit averaging 419.5 yards and 31.8 points per game, both the best in the NFL.
Meanwhile Arizona continues it surge for possibly the NFC’s No. 1 seed after demolishing St. Louis 27-3 behind quarterback Carson Palmer’s eighth game of 300-plus yards passing and a defense that allowed one third down conversion and 212 total yards.
Palmer’s strengthened his case for MVP with his 28th and 29th passing touchdown of the season, and rookie running back David Johnson gained 99 yards and caught one of Palmer’s scoring strikes as the stand in for leading but injured rusher Chris Johnson.
Based off the Cardinals official injury report, it’s possible David Johnson’s number will be called once again versus a Vikings rushing defense that’s No. 22 in the NFL. Running back Andrew Ellington (toe) did not practice Monday or Tuesday and could be out for the second straight week and fifth time overall this season.
Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Online
Betting Odds: Arizona -7.5
Over/under: 46 points
Prediction: Arizona over Minnesota, 24-13