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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: MIN 31, ARI 20

Friday Update: Warner remains listed as questionable and while he had full practices all week, he shared first team reps with Matt Leinart. He is still considered a game time decision and they have made this game as the late game on Sunday so you need to own either Leinart or a Monday night quarterback if you are going to wait until Sunday night to see if he is active. This is a situation where either quarterback or even both quarterbacks may play.

Thursday Update: Kurt Warner has been in full practices this week and has split first-team reps with Matt Leinart. HC Ken Whisenhunt says that Warner will be a gametime decision but barring any setbacks he appears ready to play.

The Vikings head to Arizona with a three game lead over the Packers in the NFC North but still a game in back of the Saints for the #1 seed. The lone loss this year did come in a road game. The Cardinals return home after losing to the Titans on the final play but remain two games ahead of the 49ers in the NFC West. The Cardinals are only 2-3 in home games this year.

The Vikings won 35-14 in Arizona last year.

Minnesota Vikings (10-1)
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-20 +3.5 40
2 @DET 27-13 -10 47
3 SF 27-24 -7 40.5
4 GB 30-20 -3.5 46
5 @STL 38-10 -10 39
6 BAL 33-31 -3 44.5
7 @PIT 17-27 +6 46.5
8 @GB 38-26 +3.5 46.5
9 BYE - - -
10 DET 27-10 17 47.5
11 SEA 35-9 -10.5 47
12 CHI 36-10 -10 47
13 @ARI - PK 49
14 CIN - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 @CHI - - -
17 NYG - - -
MIN at ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB *Vikings QB     300,3
RB Adrian Peterson 100,1 20  
TE Vishante Shiancoe   40,1  
WR Bernard Berrian   30,1  
WR Sidney Rice   120  
WR Percy Harvin   70,1  
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 4 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Vikings have feasted on this stretch of three home games against silky soft defenses and racked up big numbers. The defense continues to shine and has not allowed more than one touchdown since week eight and the offense remains as potent as any spearheaded by Adrian Peterson who either dominates opponents or forces them to commit so much against the run that there's no one left to guard the pass. The next two weeks are the key since the Cardinals and Bengals could be a problem. Get past those and it remains a race to see who has the #1 seed. For all the commentary and speculation, the NFC has become nothing more than supporting structure to determine if the conference championship is to be played in New Orleans or Minnesota.

Quarterback: The Vikings have enjoyed a fear-inspiring rushing attack for a couple of seasons since Adrian Peterson showed up and now have finally gone beyond Tarvaris Jackson to discover that the passing game can be just as meaningful and just as devastating thanks to one of the best lines in the league. Despite passing for eight scores in this three game home stretch, the opposing defenses continue to focus on Peterson and have paid a heavy price. The Vikings have produced five different games with more than three passing scores.

Tarvaris Jackson threw for 163 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinals last year. Yeah, Tarvaris Jackson. Seriously. It's easier when the defense is freaking out about Adrian Peterson.

The Cardinals have one of the softer secondaries in the league and have already allowed three of the last four visiting quarterbacks to pass for more than 300 yards and all scored at least once if not up to four times. This should be a nice set-up for Rice, Harvin, et al.

Running Backs: While Adrian Peterson has slowed down in recent weeks since the offense opted to throw whenever near the endzone, he still ranks second in rushing touchdowns (12) and third in rush yards (1084). He has only topped 100 rushing yards three times this season and just once since week six. He has scored in all but two games this season.

Peterson rushed for 165 yards on 28 carries in Arizona last season but did not score.

The Cardinals have allowed a runner to exceed 100 yards in each of the last four games and each team scored so expect a nice showing here as long as the Vikings feed him the ball. Even Chester Taylor could figure in.

Wide Receivers: These three home games spent rolling up the score have been a boon for the stats of the wideouts. Sidney Rice turned in 201 yards against the hapless Lions and then scored against both the Seahawks and Bears while remaining with 89 yards in each. Percy Harvin also scored in the last two weeks and had 180 yards on 11 catches in those games. Bernard Berrian is the only player left out. He has continued his trend of scoring every other week since week three but his yardage has been minimal in most weeks. He had one of his best games of the year against the weak Bears secondary and turned in six receptions for 74 yards.

All three starting wideouts had a touchdown in Arizona last year though none had more than 67 yards in the game.

The Cards have already allowed five players to have over 100 receiving yards so look for nice efforts here by both Rice and Harvin with a score for Berrian because no matter what - every other week. The Cardinals have enough trouble covering two wideouts, throwing three at them will prove successful. One oddity here - Rice only has four scores this year and never once on the road.

Tight Ends: Even with all the success of the wideouts, Vishanthe Shiancoe has continued to be a solid part of the passing equation and has scored in both of the last games. He has eight touchdowns to trail only Vernon Davis. He rarely falls below 40 yards and has scored in six of the last eight games. Going against one of the weaker defenses against tight ends should see Shiancoe extend his scoring streak.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 5 4 5 14 5 3
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 23 14 27 27 11 10

Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SF 16-20 -6 46
2 @JAC 31-17 +3 43
3 IND 10-31 -2.5 48
4 BYE - - -
5 HOU 28-21 -5.5 48
6 @SEA 27-3 +3 47
7 @NYG 24-17 +9 46.5
8 CAR 21-34 10 43.5
9 @CHI 41-21 +3 44.5
10 SEA 31-20 -9 46.5
11 @STL 21-13 -9.5 46.5
12 @TEN 17-20 +3.5 44.5
13 MIN - PK 49
14 @SF - - -
15 @DET - - -
16 STL - - -
17 GB - - -
ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     280,2
RB Chris Wells 40 20  
RB Tim Hightower 50 40  
WR Anquan Boldin   70  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   80,1  
WR Steve Breaston   50,1  
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals lost a tough one in Tennessee that could have been the confidence boost that Matt Leinart needed. The Cardinals are still two games up in the NFC West and have the Lions and Rams left for freebie wins. This week is a chance to practice for what could be a divisional playoff game in January. But it all comes down to the health of Kurt Warner and regard less of what happens this week, if the Cardinals win in San Francisco the following weekend then the division will be a lock.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner was a scratch last week because of vision problems stemming from his concussion and he is meeting with an eye doctor this week to assess his condition. At this point I will assume that he can play but will obviously follow it closely and update as warranted. Matt Leinart was impressive in Tennessee when he completed 21 of 31 passes for 220 yards and no interceptions. Granted - not Warneresque but an improvement from the Leinart of old.

Warner passed for 270 yards and one score versus the Vikings last year.

The Vikings have allowed at least one passing score to every road opponent and four teams have landed two scores. The Vikings have also faced mostly weaker passing attacks but teams like the Packers have scored multiple times and passed for very nice yardage. If Warner plays - still a big if - he should have a nice game here not unlike Rodgers has.

Running Backs: Tim Hightower has a minor thumb injury but it is not expected to change his role or workload. Hightower scored last week for the first time in four weeks and continues to get slightly more work than Chris Wells. Between the two runners, the Cardinals have rushed in a score in seven of the last eight games.

The Cardinals rushed for only 43 yards on seven carries against the Vikings last season.

The Vikings have been outstanding against the run and allowed only two runners to score against them. No runner has logged more than 83 rushing yards against them though Hightower should show up as a receiver this week as have previous opponents. Wells is a marginal start this week but Hightower should add receptions to boost him into decent yardage stats.

Wide Receivers: Playing without Warner last week left Anquan Boldin as the primary receiver with five catches for 53 yards while Larry Fitzgerald settled for only four receptions for 34 yards and Steve Breaston only added 26 yards on his four catches. This is why Warner must play because the Titans secondary was ripe for far more damage than that. All three receivers have fantasy value in any given week with Warner under center. Fitzgerald is still tied for the NFL lead with nine receiving touchdowns.

Fitzgerald (5-52) and Boldin (6-34) had little success against the Vikings in 2008. Jerheme Urban had the lone passing score and led the team with 82 yards on three catches.

The Vikings have a good secondary that has allowed only one receiver to hit 100 yards against them. But the Vikings have also not played against a team this talented. All three wideouts remain starts as long as Warner is healthy enough to play.

Tight Ends: No fantasy impact which is unfortunate because the Vikings cannot stop them.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 12 8 2 32 19 13
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 19 3 11 31 10 13

The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

* As a public service to those of you who listen to a lot of sports and to follow through on my otherwise meaningless pledge to a Viking coworker, I have elected to avoid all uses of the name for the Vikings quarterback this week so that your quota of hearing his name is not exceeded. In response to the media's continued drive to canonize "the guy", I am giving you one day and one media source where you will not be subjected to constant references regarding "the best year ever", "TD to Interception ratio" or "I love him even if it means I am gay in this one way". We will return to using "The Guy's" name next week after the media is shocked to see that he threw more touchdowns while facing the #27 defense against wide receivers and tight ends. Thank you for your patronage and happy holidays!

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