After a successful 4-1 week for myself in Week 13, I’ll be looking to replicate that success in what is shaping up to be a pivotal Week 14 in NFL action. From a fan’s perspective, we’ve had some real clunkers on Thursday evenings, but this week’s edition will not be one of those. Two of the best teams in the NFC are slated to square off as the Minnesota Vikings take their 8-4 record south to battle the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals. Both squads have their sights firmly set on the post-season and doing damage once they get there. The Vikes are coming off a very bad loss last week to the Seahawks, and it’s definitely not going to be any easier this week. Minnesota has a plethora of injuries on defense, and it’ll be tough to keep this high-octane offense in check come Thursday evening. This match-up is loaded with intrigue and should deliver a thrilling three hours for football fans and bettors. Read on below for the official pick and a full game breakdown for Cards/Vikings!
Vikings vs. Cardinals Betting Odds:
Minnesota Vikings +8 (-105)
@ Arizona Cardinals -8 (-115)
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Vikings vs. Cardinals Pick:
Entering Week 14, the Vikings heralded defense is all of a sudden very depleted. They’ll be without Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph, and Harrison Smith – all three of them highly integral to their stop unit. Without Joseph, Minnesota’s pass rush has really struggled and is almost non-existent. Smith is an excellent cover safety, and his absence was really taken advantage of last week vs. the Seahawks, as the deep ball was definitely working against a usually solid Vikings’ secondary. And lastly, in losing Barr, the Vikings are simply losing their top linebacker and the heart and soul of their defense. These aren’t just any three losses, they’re highly detrimental and are really hurting Minnesota at the moment.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, this week won’t give their banged-up defense any sort of rest as Arizona’s high-powered offense awaits. Carson Palmer is playing great football, and he’s got an excellent core of now-healthy receivers who are licking their lips to take advantage of the depleted Vikings. On the ground, it’s all David Johnson in the running game and look for yet another big outing from the talented youngster. Without Linval Joseph and Anthony Barr, the run game is going to be a focus for the Cardinals, and look for Johnson to find a ton of success here on Thursday evening. The Cards will have complete balance and control on offense and should be able to control the tempo of this game.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings are going to need to somehow match the Cardinals if they want to remain competitive. Though Minnesota has some great offensive talent and have made solid strides in 2015, that’s unlikely to materialize. Teddy Bridgewater has struggled in these types of big match-ups so far in his career, and the Cards aren’t going to make it easy on him. They boast an excellent defense that has no glaring weaknesses, and can counteract Adrian Peterson with their 8th-ranked run defense.
The Vikings are a much-improved team this season, but I get the sense they’re punching above their weight-class at the moment – especially without key pieces on D. They’ve faltered in every big game of late, and with the trend of the superior team usually rolling on these short-week Thursday games, it’s hard to go against the Cardinals in this spot.
PICK = Cardinals -8 (-115)