1st place Vikings return from goodbye to welcome resurrected Cardinals

By The Associated Press

ARIZONA (3-4) at MINNESOTA (5-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, Fox

OPENING LINE: Vikings by 3½, according to FanDuel Sports Betting.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Cardinals 4-3, Vikings 2-4.

SERIES RECORD: The Vikings lead 17-12.

LAST MEETING: The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 34-33 on Sept. 19, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.

LAST WEEK: Cardinals beat Saints 42-34; The Vikings had a goodbye, beat the Dolphins 24-16 on October 16.

CARDINALS OFFENSE: GENERAL (15), RUSH (13), PASS (17T), SCORING (15).

DEFENSE OF THE CARDINALS: GENERAL (22), RUSH (6), PASS (25), SCORING (27).

VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (18), RUSH (25), PASS (10), SCORING (13).

VIKINGS DEFENSE: GENERAL (27), RUSH (14), PASS (28) SCORING (12).

REVENUE DIFFERENTIAL: Cardinals plus-5, Vikings plus-4.

CARDINALS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR DeAndre Hopkins. Coming back from a six-game suspension, Hopkins had 10 catches for 103 yards last week to help rejuvenate the offense against New Orleans. The Cardinals are 9-2 with Hopkins in the field and 5-9 without him since he arrived last year.

VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson. Already with the most career yards (3,670) in three seasons in NFL history, with 11 games to go on his total, Jefferson is on course to break the franchise single-season record held by Randy Moss with 1,632 yards in 2003. Jefferson hasn’t scored since his two TDs in Game 1.

KEY MATCHUP: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray vs. Vikings DL/LB. Murray passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 31 yards and a score against the Vikings last year. He has just seven touchdown passes in seven games this season. Like Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts and Chicago’s Justin Fields earlier this year, Murray is the type of elusive QB Minnesota has been vulnerable against.

KEY INJURIES: The Cardinals are without WR Marquise Brown (foot) for at least three more games, and LG Justin Pugh (knee) is out for the season. RB James Conner (ribs) has missed the last two games, and C Rodney Hudson (knee) and K Matt Prater (hip) have been sidelined in the last three games. Conner and Prater have been restricted to training this week. Hudson, LG Max Garcia (shoulder) and LT DJ Humphries (rear) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. … The Vikings have only had one game missed by one of their starters this season, when S Harrison Smith was sidelined with a concussion in Week 3.

SERIE NOTES: The Vikings have won all 10 matchups in Minneapolis since the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988, including a Divisional Round playoff after the 1998 season. … Their last such loss was in 1977 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. … Hopkins had four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown last year against Minnesota. … Vikings DE Danielle Hunter has eight sacks in four games against the Cardinals.

STATS AND ELEMENTS: The Cardinals are coming off their best-scoring game (42 points) in four seasons under coach Kliff Kingsbury. … The Cardinals are 10-3 on the road the past two years, including the playoffs, the best such record in the NFL. … The Cardinals lead the league with four return touchdowns, including two interceptions for scoring against the Saints. … Cardinals RB Eno Benjamin had a career-high 113 total yards against New Orleans. … QB Kirk Cousins ​​has 38 wins with the Vikings, tied with Daunte Culpepper for the third most in franchise history. His streak of 36 consecutive games with at least one TD assist is the longest active streak in the league and tied for the seventh longest in history. … Vikings CB Patrick Peterson has 30 interceptions, the fourth most in the NFL since joining the Cardinals in 2011. Peterson had three defensive assists against Miami, his most in a game in three years. … A victory for the Vikings, who lead the NFC North by 2½ games, would give them their best start in seven games since they were 6-1 in 2009.

FANTASY TIP: Cardinals TE Zach Ertz had 29 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns in five games against Minnesota while with the Eagles. The Vikings allowed six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns to Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki in their previous game. They’ve allowed 24 receptions on 29 targets at the opposition’s leading TE this season for 287 yards.

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