The Cardinals will be in better shape if they can get another effective performance out of running back William Powell in Minnesota.
The Cardinals were able to run last week, and that was a relief.
A struggling ground game erupted for 182 yards against Buffalo, and while some details can't be ignored – the Bills were having trouble stopping the run coming in, and 66 of the yards came via scrambles from quarterback Kevin Kolb – it was a step forward for a team that hadn't been running the ball well enough.
With Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells down, the Cardinals also saw good production from one-time undrafted rookie William Powell, who ended up with 70 yards on just 13 carries.
"I think everyone was getting into a rhythm," offensive coordinator Mike Miller said. "And any back will tell you, the more looks they get, they get a little more comfortable."
Repeating the feat will be difficult against a Minnesota team allowing 96 yards a game. But it is a must in an effort to quiet what will be a loud Mall of America Field.
"We got it going good in the second quarter and second half," Powell said. "Against a good group like the Vikings, we want to get it going to get the confidence going in the run game."
Miller said the Cardinals had a "belief" Powell would keep getting better as the play went on. The Cards obviously saw enough that they continue to stick with their running back roster, which includes LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith and no new additions.
Powell isn't an unknown anymore, though, which may make it harder to sneak up on the Vikings.
"I don't know what is the case, but as long as the offensive line does the job it did last week, we'll get the run game going," Powell said.
HOLDING DOWN HARVIN
In the past, any talk of slowing the Vikings always started with running back Adrian Peterson, and Peterson – despite his comeback from ACL surgery – remains a potent part of the Minnesota attack. But the most dangerous Viking now is all-everything Percy Harvin.
Technically, Harvin is a wide receiver, and he leads the NFL with 49 receptions. But he is also used as a running back out of the backfield, and he is one of the most dangerous kickoff return men in the league.
"He very well might be the most explosive athlete in the NFL," linebacker Sam Acho said. "You have to account for him wherever he is."
Safety Kerry Rhodes said Harvin should be considered an MVP candidate for the 4-2 Vikings. Cornerback Michael Adams, a key special teamer, said Harvin can't be forgotten on those plays either.
"I told the guys, 'That's almost another defensive snap,' " Adams said.
In a lot of ways, the Vikings' offense just wants to get the ball in Harvin's hands and let him work. Of his 49 receptions, only four have been caught more than 15 yards downfield. Three of his seven catches of at least 20 yards where originally grabbed within four yards of the line of scrimmage or behind it.
That means the defense usually has a chance to make a play. They just can't let Harvin elude them.
"We like the challenge," Acho said. "If you want to be the best you have to beat the best."
A SURPRISING MATCHUP
Few predicted when the Vikings and Cardinals met in Week 7 both would be sporting 4-2 records, but that's what has happened. Much is as stake for both – the Vikings with a game at home, the Cardinals trying to snap a two-game losing streak – but that doesn't change anything, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said.
"Obviously we've made jumps from last year to this year and I think as the Minnesota Vikings, we expect that this will continue and we will be playing in the playoffs," Ponder said. "I assume that's exactly what the Cardinals think as well."