Minnesota (7-5) at Arizona (10-2), 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network. A pair of divisional contenders meet in the desert as the Vikings travel to Glendale to face off against the Arizona Cardinals to open play in week 14. The Vikings, trailing NFC North rival Green Bay by a game, trek westward after they were taken to task by the defending NFC champs from the Pacific North 38-7 last Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The Vikings trailed Seattle 21-0 at the half and could never recover, losing 38-7, scoring their only TD in the third quarter when WR Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 101 yards with 38 seconds to put Minnesota on the board and avoid the shutout. Minnesota was held to 31 yards rushing, while Seattle tallied 173 (with rookie RB Thomas Rawls doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression, rushing for 101 yards and a TD). Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater (118 yards) did not have a good day under center, tossing an interception and being sacked four times, while Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw for 274 yards and three TDs without turning the ball over. Seattle was 9 of 13 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:10, while the Vikings went 2 of 10 on third down tries, 0 of 1 on fourth down and held the pigskin for 24:50.

Patterson also has 12 career games with at least 100 kickoff return yards, which ties him with David Palmer for the most such games in franchise history.

On defense, defensive end Brian Robison recorded three tackles and two sacks, while safety Antone Exum, Jr. had five tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Seahawks.

“We have no choice but to move past it quickly,” Bridgewater told KARE-TV and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We have a game in four days and we can’t let this loss linger into the next week, so we want to put this game in the past and shift our focus to Arizona. We’re getting ready to face a pretty good Arizona team, so we just have to make adjustments, get guys healthy and come to play on Thursday.”

Entering Thursday’s game, the Vikings have won 11 of the past 14 matchups against the Cardinals.

Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who leads the league with 1,182 rushing yards, has averaged 118.7 rushing yards per game in his past three games against Arizona. Peterson has also scored six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) against the Cardinals in those contests.

Peterson is also tied for second in the league with eight rushing touchdowns. With two rushing touchdowns on Thursday, Peterson would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith (eight) and La Danian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.

Arizona, meanwhile, held the Rams to a 35-yard field goal by Zane Hocker in the third quarter to take a 27-3 win in St. Louis last Sunday. The Desert Angry Birds held St. Louis to 66 yards, while they rushed for 175 in the great indoors of Edward Jones Dome and QB Carson Palmer threw for 356 yards and a pair of TDs in the contest. Arizona was 7 of 16 on third down tries (0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 39:47, while the Rams kept the pigskin for 20:13, going 1 of 12 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

“We’re still looking to improve,” says Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. “We have to make sure we are improving each week. There is time to look back on the journey and enjoy it but this isn’t it, especially with a game coming on Thursday night.”

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight catches for 55 yards in last week’s game. In 12 seasons, Fitzgerald has 1,000 career receptions, the 11th player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. He also became the youngest player all-time to reach the milestone (32 years, 97 days).

“The personal stuff is all good, but I’ve done all the personal stuff already, like the Pro Bowls,” Fitzgerald told the Arizona Republic. “That stuff is great but when your team is having success – the only thing I need, personally for me, to feel like my career is fulfilled is a championship. Each win gets us a step closer, and that’s what it’s about.”

Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson (Round 3, No. 86 overall) rushed for 99 yards and added a touchdown reception in Arizona’s victory. Johnson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers as the only rookies in NFL history with at least four rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and a kick-return touchdown in a season.

Entering Thursday, Johnson has scored a touchdown in three straight games and his nine total touchdowns leads NFL rookies.

The rookies with the most touchdowns this season:
PLAYER, TEAM (RECEIVING TDS, RUSHING TDS, KICK RETURN TDS, TOTAL)
David Johnson, Arizona (4, 4, 1, 9)
Jeremy Langford, Chicago (6, 1, 0, 7)
Karlos Williams, Buffalo (5, 2, 0, 7)
Todd Gurley, St. Louis (6, 0, 0, 6)

Minnesota leads the series 13-10 (which includes contests that were played when the Cardinals were in St. Louis), have outscored Arizona 545-512 and were winners in their last three contests, including taking a 21-14 win in 2012 in the Twin Cities at the Metrodome (Arizona’s last win over the Purple Gang came in 2009, when the Desert Angry Birds were 30-17 win in Glendale). Arizona’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 45. This one might be a pretty decent one to watch, which means you might want to tape “Big Bang Theory,” “Greys Anatomy,” “Scandal” or “How To Get Away with Murder” this week. Minnesota puts up a fight but Arizona takes the win in the desert and covers the 3.

Injury Report

Minnesota
OUT: LB Anthony Barr (Groin), DT Linval Joseph DT (Foot), S Harrison Smith (Knee), LB Brandon Watts (Rib), S Andrew Sendejo (knee)
PROBABLE: DE Scott Crichton (Ankle), S Robert Blanton (Knee)

Arizona
OUT: RB Andre Ellington (Toe), CB Courtney Powers (Calf), DT Frostee Rucker (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: TE Jermaine Gresham (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: S Tony Jefferson (Hamstring), DT Cory Redding (Ankle)
PROBABLE: WR John Brown (Hamstring), WR Larry Fitzgerald (Ankle), WR Michael Floyd (Hamstring), S Julian Johnson (Ankle), LS Mike Leach (Knee), RB Stefan Taylor (Shoulder)

BROADCAST INFORMATION: NFL Network at 8:25 p.m. Eastern: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter). Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Tim Ryan. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Minnesota), 81 (Arizona). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Minnesota), 226 (Arizona).

Weather Forecast: Game indoors; if roof is open, mostly clear and 66 degrees.

Broadcast information and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best and USA Today, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel.

 

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