Cards gameday: Vikings preview - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Cards gameday: Vikings preview

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Posted: Saturday, December 5, 2009 4:27 pm | Updated: 1:57 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Cardinals have a two-game lead in the NFC West, so Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings shouldn’t seem so critical. But it is.

Graybeard QBs square off — maybe

THE SKINNY

The Cardinals have a two-game lead in the NFC West, so Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings shouldn’t seem so critical. But it is.

Graybeard QBs square off — maybe

If Arizona loses and San Francisco wins at Seattle, the lead will be down to one game, and the Cardinals then have to go to San Francisco for a Monday night game on Dec. 14.

If the 49ers win that game, they’ll be tied for the division lead and own the tiebreaker because they’ll have swept the Cardinals this season. The Vikings have to be considered the favorite Sunday, given their 10-1 record and the fact the Cardinals aren’t sure if Kurt Warner will play.

It’s hard to see a Matt Leinart-led offense scoring enough points to keep up with Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Warner will be a game-time decision.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen against the Cardinals’ tackles: Left tackle Mike Gandy has a pelvis injury and isn’t expected to play, and right tackle Levi Brown has had trouble with speed rushers all year. If Allen, who is second in the league with 12.5 sacks, can dominate the line of scrimmage, Arizona’s passing game will be severely hampered.

2. Any defensive coordinator will tell you that the No. 1 objective is to take away what the opposing offense does best. The problem with the Vikings is that they do everything well. Brett Favre is having an MVP season, but if the Cardinals try to drop extra men into coverage to cover Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, Peterson will run all over them.

If they stack the line of scrimmage, Favre will kill them over the top. The best possible scenario: Hope Favre reverts to his wild days and throws a couple of interceptions.

3. Protect Warner at all costs. Assuming Warner plays, the Cardinals can’t let him get hit. Because Warner is still recovering from a concussion against St. Louis, any blow to the head might send him to the sideline for the rest of the game. If that means keeping extra blockers in and limiting Warner’s options on pass plays, so be it.

STARTING LINEUPS

Cardinals offense

WR Larry Fitzgerald

LT Jeremy Bridges

LG Reggie Wells

C Lyle Sendlein

RG Deuce Lutui

RT Levi Brown

TE Stephen Spach

WR Anquan Boldin

QB Kurt Warner

RB Tim Hightower

FB Dan Kreider

Cardinals defense

DE Calais Campbell

DT Bryan Robinson

DE Darnell Dockett

OLB Chike Okeafor

MLB Karlos Dansby

MLB Gerald Hayes

OLB Clark Haggans

RCB Bryant McFadden

LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

SS Adrian Wilson

FS Antrel Rolle

Vikings offense

WR Bernard Berrian

TE Visanthe Shiancoe

LT Bryant McKinnie

LG Steve Hutchinson

C John Sullivan

RG Anthony Herrera

RT Phil Loadholt

WR Sidney Rice

QB Brett Favre

FB Naufahu Tahi

RB Adrian Peterson

Vikings defense

LDE Ray Edwards

LDT Kevin Williams

RDT Pat Williams

RDE Jared Allen

WLB Ben Leber

MLB E.J. Henderson

SLB Chad Greenway

CB Karl Paymah

SS Tyrell Johnson

FS Madieu Williams

CB Cedric Griffin

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