We’re starting to push into the middle of the season. It’s that part of the year when we really start to put teams into tiers and assess who has got the goods to make a deep playoff run into January.
Games like this week’s match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings are one of those “smell test” games. Both teams came into the season in various states of rebuild or repair.
The Vikings came into the season with a new direction under first-time head coach Kevin O’Connell, and a mandate from ownership to become a more offensive-focused team.
The Cardinals came into the season having broken their playoff drought, but with more questions than answers after an embarrassing playoff loss at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion, the Los Angeles Rams.
With both teams at a crossroads, we’re in for an entertaining match-up that looks to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week, opening with a total of 49.5.
Arizona Cardinals: Fully Operational?
After their return to the playoffs last year, Cardinals fans may have assumed that their reputation as bottom dwellers in the division was over. They inked Kyler Murray to a huge contract in the off-season, traded for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the off-season, and mostly ran it back with the same skill position players. There were a few departures – Christian Kirk and Chase Edmonds, most notably.
De’Andre Hopkins’ return from a PED suspension certainly lit the fire for the Cardinals’ offense. Before his return, the Cardinals had been struggling to score. Their Week 6 loss to the Seahawks was the third time in four weeks that the Cardinals had scored 17 points or fewer.
With Hollywood Brown out for the rest of the season, Cardinals fans will hope that Robby Anderson can take advantage of the attention that Hopkins will get from the Vikings. Now that Hopkins is back, their fans hope that the Cardinals will be able to attain the form they saw at the beginning of last season.
Minnesota Vikings: Finally For Real?
The Vikings have started the season 5-1, and have a real opportunity to set themselves apart in the NFC North, given the Packers’ early season struggles.
Coming off of a bye week, the Vikings will be well-rested and looking to keep up their winning ways. Their offense will be eager to get on the field against a Cardinals defense that gave up 34 points (mostly in garbage time) to the 2-5 Saints.
With injuries on the Cardinals’ defensive line and in the secondary, I would expect to see Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson having excellent days against the Cardinals. In picking this game, I would be smashing the Vikings’ money line, and the over. Since the Cardinals’ offense is starting to hum again, I think that they can make up enough in garbage time to hit the over.