Thursday night’s NFL lidlifter sees the Vikings locking horns with host Cardinals. Let’s look at the trends and all of the other numbers which will help us make an educated NFL pick in primetime.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals
Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings (8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS) head to the Sonoran Desert and University of Phoenix Stadium to face Carson Palmer and the impressive Arizona Cardinals (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) in a huge NFC inter-divisional primetime showdown from suburban Phoenix (Glendale) on Thursday Night Football (Weather Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, 75°, Winds SE 2 to 7 mph, 22% Humidity). Current NFL Odds have the Cardinals as 7- (SportsInteraction) to 9½-point range (Sportbet.com) as the Home favorites with the The Total (Points) in this game now ranging from 45 (MGM Mirage) to 46 (Many sportsbooks) while in the Money Line (Winner) marketplace, the Cardinals are solid -335 favorites with the visiting Vikings lined at +293 on the takeback (Pinnacle). The Arizona Cardinals Total Team Points is at 26½ (Ladbrokes) while the Minnesota Vikings is at 19 (Ladbrokes). The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook NFL Games of the Year opened this game at Cardinals -5 here in the late Spring while the Advanced Line out last week from the same sportsbook here in Sin City last week opened the Cardinals at -6 on its unique Advanced Line, so you can see positive perceptions of Arizona still growing slowly.
Last 6 Final Scores Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings
2012—@ Vikings 21 Cardinals 14 (MIN -7) Total Points: 35 (Under, 39½) (@ HHH Metrodome)
2011—@ Vikings 34 Cardinals 10 (MIN -3) Total Points: 44 (Under, 45) (@ HHH Metrodome)
2010—@ Vikings 27 Cardinals 24 OT (MIN -7½) Total Points: 51 (Over, 42½) (@ HHH Metrodome)
2009—@ Cardinals 30 Vikings 17 (MIN -3½) Total Points Scored: 47 (Under, 48½ )
2008—Vikings 35 @ Cardinals 14 (AZ -4½) Total Points Scored: 49 (Over, 46½)
2006—@ Vikings 31 Cardinals 26 (MIN -6½) Total Points Scored: 57 (Over, 38½) (@ HHH Metrodome)
Why Back the Favorite Cards and lay the Points? (In List Form, for the Holidays)
The Cardinals -7 (SIA) seem to be worth at least a moderate play to good-sized play laying the Points on Thursday Night Football for a number of reasons it seems:
1) The Cardinals are 4-1 SU at Home this season with victories over the Saints, 49ers, Ravens and Bengals with Arizona’s only loss at University of Phoenix Stadium coming to the Rams in Week 4 by a 24-22 score. The Cardinals have W17 of their L21 Home games here in the Regular Season in Glendale and finally have that wonderful balance of Offensive depth and a nasty Defense like they did in the 2007/08 season when they went to the Super Bowl (#4 in NFL, 19.3 ppg).
2) Arizona is playing really good football right now and is in the midst of a 6-game Win Streak (179 PF-118 PA) while Minnesota is coming off a complete Humbling by the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in Minneapolis last Sunday in Week 13 play, 38-7, and have lost 2 of their L3 (Packers, Week 11) scoring only 40 points (13.3 ppg) in those 3 games.
3) Although the Defense has been terrific, the Vikings (238 PF-232 PA) Point Differential heading here on Thursday night is only +6 points—or 5 points less than the 5-7 New York Giants who are at +11—while the Cardinals (382 PF-232 PA) Point Differential is a whopping +150—the highest mark in the NFL. So that’s a big difference. A really big difference. Think.
4) Despite veteran bullworker RB Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals have much Offensive Skill Position player and USC product Carson Palmer (3,693 yards, 29 TDs, 9 INTs, 87.6 QBR) is a much, much better QB than is the Vikings Teddy Bridgewater (2,398 yards, 8 TDs, 8 INTs, 60.8 QBR) even if the young Louisville product is more mobile. So beware of the Purple Hype. And Bridgewater and Minnesota have improved their receiving corps, but with future Hall of Famer WR Larry Fitzgerald (91 reception, 1,047 yards, 7 TDs, 11.5 ypc), Notre Dame-product WR Michael Floyd (35 receptions, 550 yards, 5 TDs, 15.7 ypc), TE Darren Fells (3 TDs) and up-and-coming flyboy WR John Brown (517 receptions, 817 yards, 4 TDS, 16.0 ypc) as well as RB David Johnson, filling in for the injured and Out-for-the Season RB Chris Johnson, the Cardinals are pretty loaded on Offense and have developed a wonderful balance under Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach Harold Goodwin.
5) Unhappiness in the Twin Cities. Some reports have RB Peterson is calling out the team and the Coaching staff again after Sunday’s thumping from the Seahawks who have apparently arisen again like Grizzly Bears that hibernate for the Winter do annually. And let’s face it, 23-year-old Teddy Bridgewater may not be the guy we, they, everyone has made out to be. Many want Minnesota (17-5 ATS L22 overall) to have a decent QB for the Future and on they can build an Offense around, but you can usually tell around Year 2 what’s up with NFL signal-callers—one of the toughest jobs in the land despite the wonderful pay and prestige—and 9 TD passes and 9 Interceptions heading into Week 14 says it all. The Vikings Defense has had to play great and AP has had to run wild for this team to be sitting where they are right now, tied atop the NFC North with their rival, the Green Bay Packers with identical 8-4 Records.
6) The wonderful University of Phoenix Home-field Advantage, quite underrated for this team in this market.
Thoughts On The Total?
Lowest Total in Market: 45 (MGM Mirage)
Consensus Totals in Market: 45½ and 46
Highest Total in Market: 46 (Many sportsbooks)
Totals Trends, Thoughts
Although Minnesota has been a very strong Under (9-1-1) team this season—the strongest in the league—automatically thinking this game will be an Under on the soft Grass at University of Phoenix Stadium where the weather will be absolutely perfect for Football on Thursday night is a mistake? Why? The Cardinals high-powered Offense s (#1 in NFL in average Points Scored per game at 31.8) The Under is 8-2-1 ATS the L11 Vikings games on the Road against the NFC while the Under is also 8-2 ATS the L10 Vikings games overall, however, the Over in Cardinals games against the NFC are 7-2 ATS the L9 and with Palmer and Company wanting to show off in primetime, the hosts could score over 30 points in this one.
Thursday Night Football, Other Trends. How This NFC Showdown Could Play Out
The Vikings (35/1 to win Super Bowl, Bet365) are 4-4 SU and 4-3 ATS on Thursday nights and 1-1 ATS Away and 2-2 as an Underdog while the host Cardinals are a suspect 1-4 SU and 1-4 ATS and 0-2 ATS at Home and 0-2 ATS in the role as a favorite on Thursday Night Football, but those were worse Cardinals teams than this bunch who Head Coach Bruce Arians has in position where they can shock the world and bring the Lombardi Trophy home to the Valley of the Sun (Cardinals 6/1 to win Super Bowl). When these two teams last met—as can be seen in the L6 List above, the Vikings won and covered at Home in 2011 as 3-point favorites, 34-10, while in the last meeting here in Glendale, the Cardinals won outright as 3½-point underdogs, 30-17. With Arizona 19-7 ATS L26 vs NFC and at Home and Palmer and the Cardinals Offense (#4 in NFL in passing, 299.3 ypg) so much better than Bridgewater and the Cardinals (9-2 ATS L11 games in December) Defense staunch, the host should win here by double digits in a fairly high-scoring affair in which the Arizona and John Brown (8 receptions, 113 yards last week, 4.34 40-yard Dash Time; Anytime TD Scorer +125, Ladbrokes) pull away in the 2nd Half. Hey, Speed kills.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Arizona Cardinals 33 Minnesota Vikings 17
NFL WEEK 14 FREE PICKS: Cardinals -7 (SIA), Over 45 (MGM Mirage)
FREE PROP PICK: Anytime TD Scorer John Brown +125 (Ladbrokes)