Adrian Peterson will steady the Viking circus (for this weekend)
I haven't been to the circus for a spell (that may be creepy without kids), but I can recall with clarity that when a lion appears in the center ring, the clowns dissipate.
Which brings me to the fact that oft-lost amidst the 2-5 Viking's slew of drama and disappointment this season has been the Purple's NFL leading rusher in Adrian Peterson.
Between the cries to fire Brad Childress, the tornado that was the acquiring and firing of Randy Moss, and the ubiquitous theatre that is Brett Favre -- all A.P. has done is accrued a league-topping 776 grounds yards at a clip of nearly 111 per game.
Look for him to wholly evidence his roar and readily add to those numbers this Sunday while the circus takes a day off and the Purple roll the Cardinals.
This marks the third straight season in which the Vikings and Cardinals have dueled, with the teams splitting the past two contests. Last year's 30-17 loss in Arizona serves as the beginning of the Purple's active eight-game road losing streak, a contest in which Peterson gathered a mere 19 yards on 13 carries Although he corralled a career-best 6 catches in the defeat, the meager yardage tally is the second-worst of Peterson's career. Two years ago, however, A.P. scorched the eventual NFC Champions for a monster 165-yard effort, a mark serving as the fifth-best of his celebrated three-plus seasons in the league. I suspect we'll see an effort closely resembling that total this go'round.
Arizona presents a respectable 3-4 record, but they've lost three of four and have been brutal on the road. Since the 'Cards felled the Rams in St. Louis in Week 1, they've dropped three straight when migrating away from the nest. For the season, their suspect defense ranks 21st in passing yards allowed (231 per game) and 31st in points (28.3 per). Of greater gravity for this contest, however, will be the 143.1 rushing yards allowed per contest, which charts 29th in the NFL.
The Cardinals D -- expected to again be without OLB Clark Haggans -- have given up four 100-yard efforts this season to the likes of Jason Snelling (129 yards), Darren McFadden (105), Mike Tolbert (100), and LeGarrette Blount (120 last weekend). Their stout run D effort in a Week 5 win over the rush-less Saints aside, Arizona also yielded 81 ground yards to Steven Jackson in Week 1 and 89 yards to Marshawn Lynch in Week 7.
Don't anticipate much of an aerial assault on Sunday. There are just two teams in the NFL still without a pass play of 40-plus yards. Wanna guess under which Teflon bubble where they'll both by playing this weekend? 'Zona quarterback Derek Anderson is a brutal turnover-machine and Brett Favre -- while coming off a truly gutsy and impressive performance -- seems absent of the ability to complete anything over-the-top.
This is Peterson's game. Look for him to rush for at least 125 yards while finding renewed
success rushing to the money side of the side. Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson should offer ample room versus a right-side of a Cardinal d-line that is awful at defending the run.
It will be interesting to observe what the absence of Moss does to clamp down on the successes the Vikings found (namely via Percy Harvin, when healthy) with his absorbing of two defenders -- but said results will be somewhat opaque and perhaps meaningless in a game that Peterson would have crushed with or without #84. That factor will become clearer in the Purple's match-up with the Bears next weekend.
The Vikings should coast this Sunday, and in the process offer Childress a brief respite from the bevy of oft-deserved negativity attracted to his shiny melon. Should the Purple tally a surprising loss in this one? I think Chilly will find himself in the same unemployment line in which he tossed Moss this week. But I see an easy win, and an opportunity for the Vikings and the fan base to gear up for a pivotal mid-season showdown against shaky Chicago at Solder Field next Sunday.
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