Let’s do something different.
Instead of ripping the Cardinals for another blown win Sunday against the Giants, I want to preview this week’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
I am going to put a few specific players or units against each other and let you know which team I think has the advantage. This will strictly be based on this year’s performance and not on any past performances (…ahem Adrian Peterson).
Here we go.
Kolb vs. Mcnabb
There’s a reason why Donovan Mcnabb is on his third team in three years. In the first four games of this season he has passed for 680 yards, four touchdowns, and has thrown two picks. He is averaging a measly 6.1 yards per pass and with a quarterback rating of 80.9 is currently ranked 18th in the league. Purple doesn’t seem to be working out for the veteran. If he keeps up this miserable performance he might be looking at his fourth team in four years.
Kevin Kolb seems to be struggling lately. With the shortened preseason, he doesn’t seem to have a feel for the offense yet. He is too quick to leave the pocket and seems to give only one look down the field. He needs to stay in the pocket longer and look to his secondary receivers more often. But, it’s hard to do this when you are constantly under pressure.
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All this aside, he has put up some pretty good numbers thus far. Kolb has passed for 1049 yards and five touchdowns. His performance has produced the 14th-best QB rating at 87.0 and he has shown he can complete the deep pass to Larry Fitzgerald when needed. This isn’t Kurt Warner production that we were spoiled with in past years but the production has been a huge step forward from last year’s entire season.
Wells vs. Peterson
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Beanie Wells flipped the beast-mode switch last week against the Giants. He rushed for a career-high 138 yards and three touchdowns. This performance brought his season total to 321 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 59 attempts. He is second only to Darren McFadden in yards per game with 107. Wells is showing to be a true weapon for the Cardinals and a must use if they want to win.
Adrian Peterson is the Vikings offense. However, even he has his limits. When your passing offense is atrocious you will overuse the run. The Vikings are doing just that.
Peterson leads the NFL in rushing attempts with 81. He has 376 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He is still the dominate player we are all familiar with, especially in week two when he rushed for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. But, with Mcnabb and the rest of the offense struggling, defenses are going to start focusing just on stopping Peterson.
Stop Peterson and you stop the Vikings.
Larry Fitzgerald is back home Sunday, so you know he’s going to come out strong. He’s been putting up great numbers thus far and he will continue doing so in Minnesota. Actually, without Antoine Winfield covering him all game, he has a chance to have his biggest game of the season. However, like usual he will see plenty of double teams, so Andre Roberts and Early Doucet will be huge weapons as second and third options for Kolb.
The Vikings’ passing offense ranks 31st in the NFL. They lost a deep threat in Sidney Rice and have yet to replace him.
Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins have been the team’s leading receivers thus far. Harvin leads the team with 172 receiving yards but seems to be a bigger kick return and rushing threat. Jenkins has 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
If Mcnabb’s struggles continue so too will the receiving core’s.
The Cardinals’ secondary has been beaten, burned and criticized all season. Their young cornerbacks have been the reason for much of this. But, if there’s ever a game for them to bounce back, it’s on Sunday against a lousy passing offense. Outside of Harvin and Jenkins the Vikings receiving core is non-existent. If the Cardinals’ secondary can cover these two, Mcnabb will be without a target to throw to Sunday.
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The Vikings will probably be without their best secondary player, Antoine Winfield, who is doubtful with a neck injury. If he doesn’t play, the Vikings secondary will struggle tremendously. With Winfield, the Vikings secondary gave up 108 receiving yards and two touchdowns to Calvin Johnson. Without him, they will give up even bigger numbers to Fitzgerald. Even if they find a way to stop Fitzgerald, in doing so, they will leave either Roberts or Doucet wide open for Kolb to throw at.
The Cardinals are hurting in the pass rush. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said his line took a "big step forward" last week and I would have to agree. But, they still lack pressure in critical situations and its hurting them late in games. Darnell Dockett has made a presence on the line but there’s only so much he can do with his double teams. Other players need to start stepping up in order to maintain constant pressure throughout the game.
There is one name that strikes fear through offensive lines everywhere: Jared Allen. It so happens he plays for the Vikings.
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He is an absolute monster this year and like most seasons, offensive lines are struggling to stop him. Allen already has 6.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.
With Levi Brown standing between him and his Kolb dinner Sunday, I can guarantee you that Kevin Kolb will get to know the field very well at the Metrodome.
I am going to be very optimistic here. The NFC West is still wide open for the taking and the Cardinals will have a chance, if they can win Sunday.
The Vikings are a struggling team and the Cardinals best them in just about every aspect of the game.
I believe the Cardinals will finally get a much-needed win Sunday and put the Vikings to 0-5 on the season.
Overall Advantage: Arizona Cardinals
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