Minnesota Vikings: Is Thursday night a trap game for Arizona?


The Minnesota Vikings are hurting big time going into Thursday night, but if I were Arizona I wouldn’t get too comfortable.

On paper it looks like the Vikings are headed for another blow-out loss Thursday night in Arizona, but you know what they say don’t you?

That’s right: They don’t play the games on paper.

The Vikings may be short-handed on defense and in apparent disarray on offense, but Arizona can’t just assume this will be an easy victory for them.

Minnesota may be taking the field without their top three defensive players, but they still have Mike Zimmer on the sidelines calling the plays.

Granted, Zimmer’s playcalling didn’t help against Seattle, but Seattle is a little different animal than Arizona.

If we’ve learned anything this year it’s that the Vikings match up terribly against teams like Seattle and San Francisco, teams that like to get physical and run the ball.

The Vikings had all sorts of problems dealing with Russell Wilson and the read-option but Arizona doesn’t feature that kind of stuff.

More from The Viking Age

Arizona has a high-powered offense but it’s a more traditional attack that features a traditional pocket quarterback in Carson Palmer.

The Vikings have done well this year against quarterbacks who can’t run. Remember how they handled Matthew Stafford and Phillip Rivers?

The Vikings may be without two of their best front-seven players, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph, but they still have some players who can get after the quarterback.

Sharrif Floyd and Tom Johnson are both penetrators from the defensive interior, and Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are all good edge rushers.

It’s true Minnesota is very short-handed at linebacker, which will likely limit Mike Zimmer’s ability to call blitzes, but if those front-four players get after the QB it may not matter.

The front-four will have to be a huge factor in disrupting the Arizona passing game because the Vikings are very weak now in the back end with Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo both out.

The Vikes still have some guys who can cover at cornerback, including Xavier Rhodes who has done a good job limiting big receivers like Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones, and Captain Munnerlyn who has been much improved this year as a nickel corner.

The safety position however is a disaster. Seattle was able to exploit the Vikings’ safeties with some big pass plays on Sunday and that has to get cleaned up against Arizona.

However, short-handed as the Vikings may be in their secondary, Arizona still has to execute their offense in order to take advantage.

And executing may not be that easy if the Vikes can get their formidable defensive line cranked up.

Point being, don’t assume the Vikings are suddenly punchless on defense just because they’re missing some top players.

Did I mention Mike Zimmer is still calling the plays?

On the offensive side of the ball, I shouldn’t even need to mention the one big thing the Vikings have going for them: His name is Adrian Peterson and he is currently a bit fired up.

Peterson is cheesed off that Norv Turner didn’t give him the ball against Seattle. I daresay, Norv will not repeat that mistake against Arizona.

Arizona may have a good all-around defense but they are only middle-of-the-road against the run.

The Cardinals’ D better make sure they’ve got it strapped on when Adrian Peterson takes the field in Hulk mode.

Of course the big issue for the Vikings’ offensive isn’t their rushing attack, it’s their passing game.

Next: 10 best QBs in Vikings history

It’s hard to find anything nice to say about Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings passing attack and there’s not a lot of reason to believe things will suddenly improve Thursday night.

Then again, weird things sometimes happen on Thursday nights.

Yes, it’s a night game and the Vikings have not been good in night games. They have however been good on the road this year.

The Vikings have shown they can bounce back quickly from bad performances. And they still have Adrian Peterson and a great defensive mind in Mike Zimmer. And a defensive line that can dominate.

Am I trying too hard to find positives to latch on to? Maybe.

It’s very possible that the Vikings have lost too many defensive players and are too discombobulated on offense to go on the road and beat a playoff-bound Arizona team.

But the Vikings have surprised me more than once this year and I’m not going to just put this one in the win column for Arizona.

The Cardinals still have to get it done on their side, and there is reason to believe the Vikings can match up against them.

The key thing for the Vikings is to play with discipline. When they’re good, it’s because they’re making fewer mistakes than their opponent.

The Vikings lack overwhelming talent so they have to be as close to perfect as possible, which means not committing penalties or giving up big plays.

The Vikes seemed to lose their discipline against Seattle, partly as a result of falling behind early, partly as a result of Seattle’s game-plan which really took advantage of certain defenders’ over-aggressive tendencies.

If the Vikings play their style on both sides of the ball, and keep their discipline, there’s every reason to believe they can stick around against Arizona.

Don’t get too comfy Cardinals fans. You may think you have this one in the bag, but that’s why they play the games.