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Wednesday Five: Vikings At Cardinals


A glance at the top storylines for the Cardinals-Vikings game Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium:

**All night, eyeing All Day

Much like the game against the Rams and running back Todd Gurley, slowing the Vikings starts with slowing running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson accounts for 36 percent of Minnesota's offensive production this season, tops in the NFL, and a big reason the Seahawks pummeled the Vikings last week was Peterson's mere 18 yards rushing. Peterson has gotten the Cardinals in the past, but this is the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL, and this is an offense that doesn't pose a huge threat beyond one of the best running backs in NFL history. That's where the attention will go.

Bright lights, big setting

Another primetime game for the Cardinals (and not the last, with the news next week's game in Philadelphia was flexed to "Sunday Night Football.") Another chance to show the nation how good this team really is, and this time, the Cards get the big advantage – playing at home, on a short week, against a team that is banged up defensively. It's hard on the players to play a game so soon, but since it has to be done, the Cards are in as good a shape as can be to perform under the lights.

Pick on the backend

The Vikings have one of the best safeties in the NFL in Harrison Smith, but he was already hurting before leaving Sunday's game with a hamstring problem. The Vikings' other starting safety, Antone Exum, was placed on injured reserve. Losing key members of your secondary is not a good factor when it comes to battling one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. The trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Smokey Brown beat up on the Rams' injured secondary last week. They get another chance.

Pressuring Bridgewater

Observers of the Vikings seem to believe second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is sinking into some bad habits as the year goes along. The reality is if Bridgewater is forced to pass (see "eyeing All Day" above) he can be pushed to making mistakes. The pass pressure again means something. It may have to come through the blitz, but stressing Teddy is a priority.

The home stretch at home

The Cardinals opened with three of four at home, then adroitly maneuvered through the middle of the schedule that featured six road games out of eight. Sitting at 10-2, now they get to finish with another wonderful three-home-dates-in-four-games stretch. Sure, the opponents are more difficult, but the Cardinals have proven a nasty bunch at home under Bruce Arians. A win would tie the franchise record for victories in a season and be the first time the team has ever had back-to-back 11-win campaigns. 

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