Why the Vikings will beat the Cardinals

BY Peter Schrager • October 5, 2011

We’re only a month into the 2011 season and the winless Vikings are already four games behind the Lions and Packers in the NFC North standings. Their quarterback’s best days are oh, seven years behind him, they're far and away the worst second half team in the league, and their All-World $100 million running back isn’t picking up the same chunks of yards per carry that he once did with relative ease. The fans are clamoring for the rookie quarterback, Jared Allen’s strong start to the season has been altogether wasted, and the lease on the Metrodome expires at the end of the season.

So, yeah, things aren’t exactly going perfectly in Leslie Frazier’s first full year as head coach in Minnesota.

But the Vikings will turn it around this weekend.

I’m with Las Vegas on this one. According to the sports gambling site BetOnline.com, the winless Vikings are just the thirteenth 0-4 team to be favored over a team with a win. The Cardinals are 2 1/2-point underdogs against a winless team for a reason — they’re not very good, themselves.

Face the music, Scheinbox — Kevin Kolb hasn’t been all that much better than McNabb, his old teammate, this season. If I had to pick between the two quarterbacks at this point, I’d probably ask for a night to think it over and beg for an option C.

In the last two weeks — two bad losses for Arizona — the Cardinals were just six for 26 on third downs. They completed one of eight on third downs in the fourth quarter of those games. Aided by the fact Arizona hasn’t played on national TV and because he has decent “fantasy” stats, Kolb hasn’t caught nearly the same heat as other underachieving quarterbacks in bigger markets. But watching the game film each week, it's clear that Kolb has been consistently inaccurate, has repeatedly missed open receivers and outside of some circus bailout catches by Larry Fitzgerald, hasn’t had many individual plays worth getting too excited about. Is he a pocket quarterback? Is he a scrambling wheeler/dealer? Part of the problem is that no one in that Arizona huddle or sideline seems to know yet. And that includes Kolb, himself. I can't see him leading a team to a victory in that Metrodome noise.

But this isn’t entirely all about Kevin Kolb’s game, or lack thereof.

It’s about Adrian Peterson breaking out. He’s due. Peterson, despite some saying he hasn’t been his 'usual' self, is still third in the league in rushing yards. And that’s behind a spotty line. Look for 'AD' and the offensive line to finally get it together and have some success at home against a defense that’s coming off three straight difficult losses. I’d be shocked if Peterson doesn’t break the 125-yard mark and score a few touchdowns in this one.

Quietly, actually silently compared to some of his previous seasons, Jared Allen’s having a bounce back year. He’ll ensure the defense gets enough pressure on Kolb to cause a few turnovers.

Minnesota’s not an 0-5 team. 0-4? Maybe. But 0-5? No, they’re better than that. This may be Larry Fitzgerald’s homecoming, but it’s truly make or break for the hometown team.

Give me the Vikes in this must win.

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