The boos could fill the Metrodome on Sunday as the venom continues to fly toward coach Brad Childress, who curiously waived Randy Moss on Monday. A loss against the struggling Cardinals would put the Vikings at 2-6 while further jeopardizing Childress’ job. The Cardinals will start Derek Anderson, who has a 62.8 passer rating, second-worst in the league.
Keys for the Vikings
• Defense must win battle up front. Quarterbacks have had all day to throw on the Vikings’ star-studded front four, which hasn’t recorded a sack in three games for the first time in franchise history. Ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards have disappeared lately, and the Vikings’ run defense ranks 13th in the league after finishing in the top two the previous four seasons. The Cardinals will likely pound the ball with the run to ease the pressure on Anderson, and the Vikings must respond.
• A controlled Brett Favre. Favre’s 15 turnovers this year have resulted in 58 direct points for opponents, which explains the record. Last week, the Vikings rolled up 410 total yards in a 28–18 loss to the Patriots. Favre needs a repeat performance (22-of-32, 259 yards) to control the pace while Adrian Peterson runs 25-plus times.
Keys for the Cardinals
• Give Anderson a short field. The Cardinals rank 21st in passing defense (231 ypg), 27th in total defense (374.1 ypg) and 29th in rushing defense (143.1 ypg). Losses to Atlanta and San Diego were by a painful 82-17 margin. Somehow they must find a way to give Anderson something to work with in a rowdy road-game environment. It’s in the Cardinals’ best interest to keep this game low-scoring and win the battle of field position.
• Insert Larry Fitzgerald at every turn. One of the best receivers in the game is a Minneapolis native who caught 11 passes for 172 yards in November 2006, the last time he played in the Metrodome in the regular season. He’s trapped by an offense with sub-par quarterbacking, but he’ll be motivated to produce in his hometown. Arizona should get him the ball on screens, downfield, slant routes, any way they can.
The Vikings are too desperate, and too talented, to drop one at home to a Cardinals team that’s unimpressive on almost every front. They know falling to 2-6 all but puts them out of the NFC North race. Vikings 23-14.