Minneapolis, MN- If someone were to tell John Skelton the Cardinals would start out 4-2 at the beginning of the year he would’ve probably been happy with that prediction, but I doubt he saw it going like this. After getting knocked out of the season opener with a sprained ankle, he became an afterthought as Kevin Kolb helped propel this defensive-lead team to a 4-0 start. Most figured Skelton wouldn’t be on the shelf all season, if Kolb’s performance wouldn’t land him on the bench his bad protection up front would, and the latter happened last week.
On most teams in the NFL if the starting quarterback went down then the future of that team would be much bleaker instantly, but with this team it’s barely changed. Skelton gets the ball out of his hand quicker instead of scrambling or running like Kolb, but other than that the expectations of the offense are the same. Some people prefer Skelton over Kolb as a passer, but he still might have a little rust to shake off after missing almost five weeks. In six games both quarterbacks have sustained injuries that held them out for multiple weeks, so this offensive line just needs to play well enough to keep Skelton walking. Most offensive lines would be insulted with such a belittled challenge, but this group is not like most offensive lines.
Todd Heap and Kerry Rhodes are the two big contributors for Arizona that are listed as questionable, but neither of them are expected to play. The sure handed tight end has been out for some time now with a knee injury and Rhodes has been in a good amount of pain with an ailing back. Former Bengal Jerome Simpson, who might be a Sportscenter Hall of Famer after front-flipping over Daryl Washington last year, may play for the Vikings. If he does, don’t surprised if Washington lets him know who the better player is this season if Simpson just so happened to run across the middle on a slant route.
Adrian Peterson poses problems from any defense, no matter how good they are. If Arizona’s D can contain him on 1st and 2nd downs and force the young quarterback, Christian Ponder, to try to make plays that will create an opportunity for many things to fall in place for the Cards. Good field position for a weak offense, chances for turnovers, and hopefully some sacks can all be the result of long 3rd downs for Minnesota. Adrian Peterson is one the great running backs in the league though, and he continues to run harder as the game goes on and others get tired. It’s a shame he’s playing for the Vikings, because he really is one of the players worth paying to see and him against the Cardinals front seven is one hell of a matchup.
This game is very important for the Cardinals when the rest of their schedule comes into play. A game in Minnesota is tough but winnable for them, and their next three games are against San Francisco, at Green Bay, and at Atlanta. I love the way the Cardinals defense is playing this year but even I don’t think they come out winning one of those games, those might be 3 of the best 5 teams in the NFC. A win at Minnesota would keep them above water if they were to go on a losing streak and since Arizona dropped their last two, next Sunday is probably their best shot at stopping a potential free fall in this surprisingly tough division.
The Vikings have impressed their critics this year, they play tough in the trenches and take advantage of special teams situations to help their offense. They’re actually very similar to the Cardinals except they block much better up front and have Adrian Peterson, but the Vikings don’t have the same caliber of defense and they definitely don’t have a Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona will have to win at least 1 if not 2 of their next 4 games if they want to stay in the playoff hunt, and this is their best shot. Unfortunately, with another change at quarterback and terrible blocking I don’t think they can capitalize. The Vikings stay ahead from the beginning and win, 24-10.
About the Author
Written by Thomas Mitchell
Born & raised in Arizona, part of the MJ generation. Lifelong sports fanatic