Vikings’ Playoff Hopes Ride on Sunday’s Game Against the Cardinals

As we enter the latter part of the season, the Vikings’ playoff hopes are hanging in the balance heading into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

After starting the season perfect at 5-0, the Vikings look to prevent a fifth consecutive loss that would bring them to .500 with six games remaining on the regular season schedule.  Here is how they will come out of week 11 with a victory.

Keep pressure on Carson Palmer

Through the first five weeks of the season, the Vikings’ defensive line was playing at an elite level and had the stats to back it.  Fast forward to week eleven and the mojo that the unit once had has seemingly vanished as they have failed to put pressure on quarterbacks at the same rate.  That all needs to change this Sunday if the purple want to come out on top.

A clean pocket for Palmer simply does not bode well for the Vikings chances of winning on Sunday.  With weapons like Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd, Palmer will have no problem finding open receivers if the protection is sound.   The Vikings will need to get in Palmer’s face early and often in order to prevent him from getting into a rhythm.

Get Stefon Diggs involved early

Earlier this week, Bruce Arians revealed that Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson will be in charge of shadowing Diggs on Sunday.  A bold move to reveal your hand this early, but it shows the level of confidence that Arians has in Peterson to shut down opposing team’s top targets.

Last year when the two squared off, Peterson all but eliminated Diggs from the offense.  Now with a full season under his belt, Diggs is a much more well-rounded receiver and will provide Peterson with a tougher assignment than what he faced in their previous matchup.  Look for the Vikings to try to get Diggs involved early with timing routes and short screens to build his confidence.  Once he gets going he’s very hard to stop, just ask the Redskins.

Keep Bradford comfortable in the pocket

The Vikings offensive line has been anything but successful through ten weeks, and the loss of left-tackle Jake Long in last week’s game against the Redskins only makes matters worse for the unit.  Now faced with one of their toughest assignments yet in trying to contain Chandler Jones and Calais Campbell, the job of keeping Bradford upright does not appear to be a likely scenario all things considered.

That being said, the Vikings know the great challenge ahead of them and will undoubtedly think of ways to maximize protection and get the ball out of Bradford’s hands as quickly as possible. This puts added pressure on the Vikings receivers as they will need to gain separation right off the line of scrimmage in order for Bradford to get the ball out on time.  If the Vikings offense can execute on the quick-release passes, they should be able to move the ball effectively against this stout Cardinal’s defense.

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