Online sports betting sites have made it clear we should not expect a tight game here, as the Minnesota Vikings have opened as 10.5-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 6 matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EST on October 14th.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: Arizona’s offense has been bad this season. They struggle to move the ball through the air, averaging just 146.2 passing yards per game (31st), and handing the ball off hasn’t been kind either, totaling 64.6 rushing yards per game (32nd).
As you likely assumed, the result has been a meager 13 PPG (31st).
But all those season averages are a little misleading. In three Sam Bradford starts, the Cardinals scored 20 points and never posted more than 221 total yards in a game. In two Josh Rosen starts – their last two games – they have scored 45 points and have posted at least 220 total yards in each.
Rosen is actually pushing the ball down the field while still doing a better job protecting it.
But in order for this offense to reach its potential, David Johnson will have to get going on the ground. The back is averaging a lousy 3.3 yards per carry this season. But with a QB who is threatening defenses down the field, he should start finding some more room to run.
Arizona’s defense prides themselves on defending the pass. They only spot their opponent 248.6 passing yards per game (13th), compared to 142.4 rushing (31st). The Cardinals’ strength against the pass has led to them allowing only 22.4 points per game (11th).
The offense Arizona will see this week isn’t awful, but they’re also not being referred to as good. Without Kirk Cousins and his group of talented pass-catchers, Minnesota wouldn’t even be averaging 22.6 points per game (21st). Cousins leads the Vikings’ third-ranked passing attack, which is largely to thank for the points they are managing.
The QB has totaled 1,688 passing yards with an 11:2 TD to INT ratio (105.1 passer rating). Adam Thielen has served as Cousins’s go-to receiver, hauling in 47 passes for 589 yards and three TDs.
But this offense won’t ever be feared until they get more from their 31st-ranked running game. Facing a Cardinals defense this week that allows 142.4 yards per game on the ground (31st), it might be a good time to try and get Latavius Murray (106 rushing yards this season) and Dalvin Cook going.
The Vikings defense has not had much luck keeping teams out of the end zone this season. They’re giving up an unacceptable 26.2 PPG (24th), largely thanks to the 278.6 yards per game they allow through the air (25th).
This unit looks like a mere shell of its 2017 self.
The last meeting between these two came on November 20th, 2016, when Minnesota defeated the Cardinals 30-24. The Vikings were also 2-point favorites in that game.