Thanks to an impressive defensive performance, the Arizona Cardinals earned their first win of the season last weekend with a 28-18 victory at the San Francisco 49ers.
This Sunday, a tougher road test awaits when the Cards head to Minnesota to face a Vikings team that advanced to last season's NFC Championship game and are coming off a win over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Can the Cards make it two in a row? Here are a pair of predictions from the ABC15 sports team.
ABC15 sports director Craig Fouhy
The Cardinals are feeling much better as they come off their first win of the season, but the Vikings are coming off a 23-21 win over the defending Super Bowl champions. Sunday’s game in Minnesota is a noon start (10 a.m. Arizona time), and you know what an early start means for the Cardinals? In the last few seasons, the Cards haven’t fared very well in early starts.
So, the goal this week is to control the clock and keep the Vikings' offense off the field. Unfortunately, the Cards' offense is sputtering, and the Vikings' defense (third-best in third-down conversion rate) will be even tougher than what the Cards faced last weekend in San Francisco.
Defensively, the Cards have to deal with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is second in the NFL in passing yards, and wide receiver Adam Thielen, who is first in the league in receptions and second in receiving yards. It’ll be a huge test for the Cardinals, and I’m not holding out much hope. Vikings 34, Cardinals 10
ABC15.com sportswriter Shane Dale
Running back David Johnson has somehow managed five touchdowns in the Cardinals' first five games, in spite of not receiving much help from his offensive line or fellow skill players. But Johnson is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, and the Cards simply must find more ways to get the versatile playmaker out in space, beyond sending him up in a fighter jet.
The Vikings' offense has been one dimensional thanks largely to injuries to running back Dalvin Cook, but they've made up for it in the passing game, thanks to Kirk Cousins and arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The Cards, however, have allowed just five passing touchdowns this season, and their pass rush is beginning to come around.
Rookie QB Josh Rosen is likely to improve upon his mediocre outing in San Francisco, and the Cards' suddenly stingy defense should give Minnesota more of a test than most expect. But the Vikings were caught off guard when they suffered a historically surprising home defeat to the lowly Buffalo Bills three weeks ago, and they won't allow lightning to strike twice. Vikings 27, Cardinals 20