The Minnesota Vikings (5-4) are looking to get their first win since October when the face the Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings have hit a horrendous rough patch of as late and they are hoping that home field advantage will do them some good.
But in the true Minnesota spirt of keeping things interesting the big story this week is that the Vikings have released Kicker Blair Walsh and brought in Kai Forbath. Walsh has struggled since he missed the game winning extra point against the Seahawks last season and has not been able to bounce back since. Last week against the Redskins he missed his fourth extra point attempt, most in the NFL, and that came after he missed another extra point, missed a field-goal attempt blocked and botched a late kickoff in the 22-16 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions. Forbath has been out of work since the New Orleans Saints let him go in September.
Walsh being let go seems to be another layer of bad times for this team. Since the bye week the Vikings have been on a four-game losing streak that has shaken the confidence of this once top contender team. But Minnesota is looking to get back into the winning groove this Sunday. While it has seemed to pour in the land of purple, the skies haven’t always been gloomy.
The Vikings defense, as slowed down as they have been is still one of the top defenses in the league. They are top-ranked in points allowed only giving up 16.9 points per game and they rank third in the NFL for only allowing 308.8 yards per game, held opponents to a 74.6 passer rating making them third in the league and have 18 takeaways- 10 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries which puts them fourth in the NFL. The Vikings defense has been weak when it comes to pass catching running backs so their top priority must be Cardinals running back David Johnson. He leads the NFL in yards from the scrimmage with 100 yards in each game. They must shut him down from the jump, or at minimum slow him down.
While the offense has been a major cause for concern for the team, they have managed to make some decent moves. Stefon Diggs continues to be one of the best thing this season for the Vikings. He is tied for third in the NFL with 61 receptions and has caught a career high 13 passes in past two games making him the first player in NFL history to do so. Quarterback Sam Bradford has shined despite the weak run game and troubled offensive line. Bradford has set a career high five games 100 plus passer rating. He also is third in the NFL in completion percentage and fifth in interception percentage. But Patrick Peterson and the rest of the Arizona’s defense will put those numbers to the test. And speaking of Peterson, who has 19 interceptions since 2011, the Cardinals will put their top man in charge of containing Diggs.
Both teams have seen much better days. The Cardinals have not performed well on the road and have seemed to lacked enthusiasm lately, but don’t see this as an automatic win for the Vikings. Arizona can and will show might on both sides of the ball and that is something that Minnesota needs to be careful of. For Minnesota, this is a high stakes game, they must win to show that the beginning of the season wasn’t a fluke and they are that top team. Playing at home could mean they come in arrogant and take this losing streak to five, but it could be what they need to bounce back in a major way.
Watching the game? Here’s what you need to know:
TIME: 12:00 CST, CHANNEL: FOX (Local Channel 9), RADIO: KFAN FM 100.3FM/KTLK 1130 AM