The Arizona Cardinals seek to start the season 2-0 as they play their home opener against the 0-1 Minnesota Vikings. To help preview this Week 2 NFC matchup, Vikings Wire managing editor Jack White takes us “behind enemy lines” to learn more about the Vikings in 2021.
The OT loss in Week 1
Outside of the fumble in overtime, what led to the Vikings' season-opening loss?
There were a lot of factors. For one, the Vikings had 12 penalties accepted against them. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland missed five tackles and finished the game with a PFF coverage grade of 25.3. Minnesota, a run-heavy offense, only averaged three yards per carry against Cincinnati. Honestly, the Vikings didn’t deserve to win that game, based on how sloppy they were on both sides of the ball. If they play like that against the Cardinals, it’s safe to say Arizona won’t need overtime to take care of Minnesota in Week 2.
Patrick Peterson's play
(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
How did Patrick Peterson look in Week 1 and how has he looked overall dating back to the offseason?
I thought Peterson looked good in limited targets thrown his way. Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense mostly picked on Breeland and Kris Boyd on the opposite side of the field. PFF said he had two receptions allowed to finish with a coverage grade of 66.7. Peterson took issue with that, saying on his podcast he only allowed one catch. In my opinion, Peterson played pretty well, but the Bengals mostly just tried to avoid him, because, well, they could do so and still find success.
Injured defense against the Cardinals' offense
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
With Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Everson Griffen all either out or questionable for the game, what can the Vikings do to slow the Cardinals' offense?
Kendricks is listed as questionable, while Barr and Griffen are both confirmed as out. I think if Kendricks doesn’t play, they need a stellar game out of Troy Dye. Dye was inconsistent in his rookie year last season, but thrived in the team’s second preseason game of 2021 against the Colts. If he can play like he did vs. Indianapolis, the Vikings defense might not fully fall apart. Minnesota needs Danielle Hunter to have a huge day — he’s the team’s best defensive lineman. Michael Pierce, a nose tackle whose job is mainly to clog up holes and stop the run, had two sacks against the Bengals. If he plays like that again, Minnesota may be able to pressure Kyler Murray into making mistakes. All that said, without Barr, Griffen and possibly Kendricks, the Vikings defense is looking at a long day, especially if Arizona has DeAndre Hopkins lined up on either Breeland or Boyd consistently.
(AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)
Which matchups are you most excited to watch? Which are you most worried about?
I’m most excited to see Peterson against his old team. Between Hopkins, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, the Cardinals have plenty of ways to attack the Vikings secondary. Peterson needs to shut down his receiver, and the Vikings need a bounce-back game from Breeland or Boyd. Vikings fans should be most worried about Rashod Hill having to block Chandler Jones. Titans tackle Taylor Lewan, who is probably better than Hill, had a horrendous day against Jones in Week 1. In Week 2, Jones has an easier matchup and could torment Kirk Cousins.
Lesser-known Vikings players
Who are some lesser-known contributors to the offense and/or defense that Cardinals fans should know?
K.J. Osborn won the WR3 role this offseason and looked good against the Bengals. He struggled as a punt returner as a rookie, but has found his stride as a sold option in the passing game now that he’s in his second year. Tyler Conklin is now the team’s primary tight end after Irv Smith Jr. went down with an injury. On defense, Blake Lynch, Nick Vigil and Dye will see more action now that Barr and possibly Kendricks are both out.