NFL Thursday Night Preview: Minnesota vs. Arizona

arizona-cardinals-wide-receiver-larry-fitzgeraldTomorrow night should make for an exciting and exceptional Thursday night game for Week 14 of the short but sweet NFL season. The Cardinals and Vikings will play each other at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona. These two near titans have a lot of skill and fire power, so whatever the outcome, the game will be explosive.

Arizona Cardinals are at an impressive 10-2 this season. They don’t really get a lot of national television exposure, especially on the East coast, but the Cardinals have looked absolutely amazing this season. Cards’ Carson Palmer is an excellent pick for the Comeback Player of the Year, and deservedly so. To date, Palmer has an amazing 29 touchdowns and only nine interceptions this year. They are the No. 2 seed right now in the NFC, chasing the Carolina Panthers, so tonight is a huge game for them.

The Cards’ offense currently ranks number #1 in the league when it comes to points and yards this season. The only downside is running back Chris Johnson will be out for the rest of the regular season. And the Vikings defense is nothing to laugh at, so Palmer will have to be in top form tomorrow night. Larry Fitzgerald is playing at an elite level, recently eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark yet again.

Defensively the Cardinals look amazing too. They have only allowed 16 total points the last two weeks, and so their current ranking is fourth overall in yards allowed. So for tomorrow’s game, the key will be for their defense to be a wall, and stop, stop, stop the amazing Adrian Peterson.

Though they lost their last game against the Seahawks in a rout of 38-7 that put the Minnesota Vikings at an 8-4 record. Just totally embarrassed at home last week against Seattle, they made it a pattern as they lost two of their last three games which put them in a hole they didn’t need to be in. The Vikings will be trying hard to get back on track if they want to keep their chance at winning the NFC North alive, and overcome the current leaders, the Green Bay Packers.

Many of the team critics were Vikings fans, who were frustrated and disappointed as Peterson only got eight carries last week. There was no climbing back from 28 points, and that’s what happens when your offense can’t get going until the second half. Teddy Bridgewater will have to get his game to the next level, as the playoffs are around the corner. That’s the only way these Vikings will be able to beat the Cardinals tomorrow night.

Bridgewater only has eight touchdowns, and an equal eight interceptions this season. That record won’t take them far. The Cardinals will have a tight game plan and want to stack the box around the opposing QB, and force Bridgewater to go long and make plays with his arm. He needs to think about making some rush plays like the Packer’s Aaron Rodgers made last week to get the comeback win.

The Vikings are a formidable enemy and might have what it takes to face up to the Cards. Right now they have the No. 4 ranked defense as far as points allowed. They were only exposed against the Seahawks and Russell Wilson last week because their defense had undisciplined holes, and so Wilson was able to connect on multiple deep balls in Minnesota’s redzone. But if Palmer is on his game it won’t be such a huge problem since Palmer throws one of the best long balls in the NFL.

We think the Vikings need and want this win a lot more than the Cardinals do, but it’s going to be tough uphill battle. The Cards do have the home field advantage, and they probably want to catch the incredible Panthers for first place pole position. In the end, the quarterback’s play will probably make the biggest difference.

Our Pick: Vikings over Cardinals, 28-21