After finally getting their first win of the season last week, the Arizona Cardinals will look for their second win this week when they visit the Minnesota Vikings. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 14, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Fans in certain markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 6 NFL odds, the Vikings are 10.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 43 points.
After a couple of close calls, the Cardinals finally had their breakthrough last week against the 49ers. Despite getting out-gained by over 200 yards, Arizona took advantage of five San Francisco turnovers and one 75-yard touchdown pass by Josh Rosen to secure a 28-18 win.
At 1-4, the odds are obviously still stacked against Arizona making anything of their season. Nevertheless, the Cardinals will have to feel good about getting the monkey off their back. With Rosen now installed as the starting quarterback, the Cardinals should be at least a little optimistic that they’ll be able to build off of last week’s win and continue to be competitive from week to week.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are still trying to find their way after an uneven start to the season. Minnesota finished September 1-2-1 despite a strong start to the season by new quarterback Kirk Cousins. However, last week’s road win against the Eagles appears to be a big step in the right direction.
The Vikings still have some ground to make up in the NFC Central, but their schedule over the next month is quite manageable. That being said, Minnesota lost a game in which they were favored by double digits to the Bills earlier this season, so they can’t afford to take any team lightly. If the Vikings can use last week’s win to get back on track, there’s plenty of time for them to fulfill their preseason expectations of being legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
With the Vikings starting to trend upward after last week’s win, this game has the look of a mismatch. But I’m still not ready to believe in Minnesota, especially when it comes to covering a double-digit spread. The Vikings still lack the overall balance on their roster to make me comfortable eating 10.5 points. I’ll take my chances leaning toward Arizona and the points.
While Cousins has performed better than expected this season, the Vikings are still averaging just under 23 points per game. If they maintain that kind of pace this week, it won’t be easy covering the 10.5-point spread. Admittedly, the wide receiver duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will create matchup difficulties for the Cardinals, but the Vikings haven’t found enough success running the ball to really get rolling offensively.
With Dalvin Cook limited to three games because of a hamstring injury, Minnesota’s rushing game has slumped. Cook is still battling to get back healthy for this week’s game. The trio of Cousins, Thielen, and Diggs has allowed the Vikings to get by with a pass-heavy offense. However, it can make them predictable and hold them back at times. The lack of a running game has made it harder for the Vikings to be explosive in the passing game, which in turn, will make it tough to cover a double-digit spread.
The Arizona defense also deserves a fair amount of credit. Despite the team’s poor record, the Cardinals are only yielding 22 points per game. Opposing teams have racked up a lot of rushing yards against them because the Cardinals are always behind. However, they’re giving up a respectable 4.1 yards per carry on the season. That makes me think the Minnesota rushing attack will remain in check this week.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the Cardinals have a viable pass rush, collecting 14 sacks in five games. Arizona’s defense also has the ability to create takeaways, forcing five last week against the 49ers. Cousins has taken care of the ball this season, but the Vikings have allowed him to get sacked 14 times. With their propensity for throwing the ball, Arizona’s opportunities to create turnovers will increase slightly, especially if they can get consistent pressure on Cousins.
Of course, it’s fair to have concerns about Arizona’s offense. Even in last week’s win, Rosen was just 10 for 25 throwing the ball. The Cardinals are also the worst rushing team in the league and haven’t gotten Larry Fitzgerald involved enough. Meanwhile, the Minnesota defense is giving up 36 points per game and has allowed at least 21 points in four of their five games. Based on that, I don’t see them pitching a shutout this week.
Ultimately, I think the Vikings will win this game, but I’m not convinced it’ll be a comfortable win. The Vikings have been far from dominant defensively and a little too one-dimensional on offense. Even in their losses, the Cardinals have been competitive over the last few weeks, and I think they can keep that up. I’ll take Arizona to beat the 10.5-point spread on the road.