We are three quarters of the way through the NFL season. With four games left in a season that has flown by, many teams are vying for playoff spots. My favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings is fortunately one of them. With an 8-4 record the Vikings would be the 5th seed in the NFC playoff bracket if the season ended today. The next four weeks will be a challenge for the purple and gold, starting with a trip to Arizona to face a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is a team that is well coached, has an MVP candidate in Carson Palmer at Quarterback, a ferocious defense, and depth across the board. Heading into tonight’s contest, the Vikings have a banged up defense. Starting safeties Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo are both inactive, along with Linebacker Anthony Barr, and Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph. With these four players missing the majority of last week’s thrashing against the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks many expect more of the same, myself included. The alarming fact about this football team is this, it’s offensive line is one of the worst in the league, if not the worst in pass protection. Teddy Bridgewater is the future franchise Quarterback of this team and is taking hits like a crash-test dummy week in and week out. If that does not change, this offense is one dimensional and easy to stop and has a great chance to finish this season with an 8-8 record.
Up to this point the Vikings winning formula has been this; run the MVP running back Adrian Peterson and play lights out defense. Seattle did the same thing the last two years with a developing Russell Wilson (who is now playing like a Top 5 QB in the NFL) and have appeared in the last 2 Super Bowls. When Adrian Peterson gets 20 touches or more, the Vikings chance to win improves significantly.
At the front of this season I predicted the Vikings to finish the season with an 11-5 record and as a Wild Card team in the NFC playoffs. The losses included; (twice to Green bay, Seattle, Arizona, and Denver) Now that was before injuries to Center John Sullivan and Right Tackle Phil Loadholt(both are out for the season) and the injuries on defense I have listed above. If this defense can get healthy for their last 3 games against Chicago, New York Giants, and Green Bay I believe they can win two of those games and finish this season with a 10-6 record which would most likely earn them a wild card seed in the post-season.
Tonight Carson Palmer gets to pick apart a banged up secondary and based on what I have observed the last few weeks the Vikings do not have the passing game (due mostly to poor pass protection) to keep up with an aerial attack like Arizona’s. Arizona also has a tough defense that could mean another dismal outing for Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater.
Tonight’s final score prediction: Arizona 31 Minnesota 14