The Arizona Cardinals can't rest on their laurels or be satisfied with thier first division championship in forever because the Minnesota Vikings come to town this weekend with thoughts of locking up the #3 seed in the NFC. I haven't declared any games this season as 'must win' games, but this Sunday could carry that kind of weight, if you value the #3 seed. A loss the Vikings would give them a virtual a two game lead (one game lead with head-to-head tiebreaker) with two to play, but a win would do the same thing for the Cardinals. So how good are the Vikes?
Since starting the season with consecutive losses and benching their starting QB (Tarvaris Jackson), they've won eight of their next 11 games, including five of their last six. Thier only losses in that time have come on the road aginst the Titans, Bears and Bucs (a combined 28-11 record) and they were within one score in each game until late in the fourth quarter. Their offense may be one-dimensional (much like the Cards), but that hasn't stopped them from scoring nearly 25 points per game in their past 11 games and the defense has been superb recently. They've held opposing offenses to just 15 points per game over their past four and they excel at getting after the quarterback (4th in the league with 37 sacks).
The Vikings offense plays to the strength of the Cardinals defense but it's the Vikings defense that could give the Cardinals some problems. The Cardinals can't run the ball on anyone so the Vikings front seven will be able to feast on Tim Hightower and company but it's the Vikings' pass rush that's really concerning. They've got one of the best, if not the best, pass rushing defensive ends and he spear heads a defensive line that could send 3 players to the Pro Bowl. Their defensive line has combined for 24 sacks among the starters and another four sacks have come from the backups. They don't have to blitz to pressure the quarterback and that's been a key to slowing down the Cardinals passing attack.
So what's the point of all this? The Cardinals can't rely on the "Division Champs" banner or a racous home crowd to beat the Vikes. They can't afford a championship-hangover and they will have to play four quarters of solid football to come out with an important win. What concerns you most about the Vikings?