When: 3:05 p.m. Sunday, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
TV (radio):Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130 AM)
Line:Cardinals by 4½
The Cardinals made a statement with a 38-13 victory at Tennessee last week, and while the Vikings try to deal with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, they will also have to worry about an Arizona defense that contained Derrick Henry and sacked Ryan Tannehill six times last Sunday. Unless the Vikings are much more efficient on both sides of the ball this week, they will have a tough time in what appears to be a difficult matchup on the road.
THREE STORY LINES
Vikings try to avoid 0-2 start on the road
Penalties and defensive lapses forced the Vikings to scramble just to force overtime at Cincinnati last week, and their loss to the Bengals meant an 0-1 start during a difficult portion of the schedule. They face the Cardinals before coming home to play two 2020 playoff teams (the Seahawks and Browns), so a victory here could be important to stop an early-season slide.
Peterson returns to Arizona
Patrick Peterson made his feelings clear this summer about his departure from the Cardinals, saying he "lost all respect" for Steve Kelm after he said the GM led him to believe Arizona would re-sign him, only to go silent in free agency. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection said he's not sure what kind of reception he will get in Arizona, though he would welcome any recognition he would receive for his time there. Once the game starts, he expects a physical matchup with Hopkins, also a former All-Pro.
Murray could test Vikings D
The Vikings will again be without Anthony Barr, whom they have used as a spy for mobile quarterbacks in the past, and Eric Kendricks is questionable because of a quadriceps injury. That makes things even more challenging against Murray, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft who threw for four touchdowns and ran for one last week.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings LT Rashod Hill vs. Cardinals DE Chandler Jones
Jones was named NFC defensive player of the week after sacking Tannehill five times, and the performance he had against an established left tackle like the Titans' Taylor Lewan means Hill will have his hands full in this one. The Vikings could try to devote extra help to Hill against Jones, but they could also try to slide protection toward Garrett Bradbury as he deals with J.J. Watt and the middle of the Cardinals defensive line — in which case it would help if Hill can handle Jones one-on-one.
Vikings CB Patrick Peterson vs. Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins
Peterson practiced against Hopkins last year in Arizona, and said this week he is the type of receiver that invites physical matchups with corners. Hopkins and Xavier Rhodes had a heated battle in 2016 when the receiver was with Houston; Peterson loves to press receivers, and doesn't figure to back down from his former teammate. The Bengals didn't test Peterson much; that could change this week if he gets most of the snaps against Hopkins.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
35.3: The percentage of Derrick Henry's Week 1 carries where the Cardinals put eight defenders in the box, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Bradbury pointed out this week how many similarities the Vikings and Titans' offenses have, so the Cardinals could use a similar approach against Dalvin Cook.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They can run the ball effectively against the Cardinals' loaded fronts and diagnose pressure packages better than they did last week, giving Kirk Cousins time to set up play action and throw downfield against Arizona's single-high safety looks. The Vikings will also need to be disciplined against Murray, and have corners who can cover for five or six seconds when Murray breaks the pocket looking to throw on the run.
THE CARDINALS WILL WIN IF …
They can turn the game into a track meet where they test the Vikings' secondary depth and their pass-rush discipline against Murray, while putting Minnesota in third-and-long situations where they can send their pass rushers after Cousins like the Bengals were able to do. If the Vikings can't set up their offense through Cook, it's hard to see them coming up with a workable approach to win.
Cardinals 34, Vikings 27