This week, the Cardinals host the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football at University of Phoenix Stadium. The matchup against the NFL's best rusher has been long awaited. Not only would a victory for the home team move the Cards one step closer to clinching the NFC West, the matchup also gives the Vikings a chance to prove they are the real deal and jump the Packers for the lead in the NFC North.
Many of our staff cast their votes, but whom does Madden 16 say will win this battle in the desert? 5-minute quarters, 10-second accelerated clock, all-pro with the top on University of Phoenix Stadium open, I began the simulation of the Thursday Night matchup.
Final Score: 10-16 Cardinals in OT
After watching this simulation, I hope that this is how the game turns out. Sure, Cardinals fans everywhere will have no fingernails by the time the clock hits zero, but claiming a hard-fought victory in overtime with Carson Palmer connecting 47-yards to John Brown for the game-winner would make it all worth it.
The Cardinals went into halftime with a 10-3 lead, which the Vikings tied up in the third. A surprisingly low scoring game for the massive amount of yards the Cardinals picked up at 327 compared to the Vikings 217. In the air, MVP candidate Carson Palmer played as well as ever going 23 for 35 with 261 yards and tossing for both of the team's touchdowns. He did throw one interception in the beginning of the game, which may have contributed to the slow start of the game. Teddy Bridgewater played like what seems to be every Vikings quarterback in the AP era - handing the ball off constantly - limiting his attempts. Bridgewater went 10-19 for only 91 yards but picked up the team's lone touchdown with his feet. Carson clearly won the air battle, but the Vikings strategy differed quite a bit from the Cards.
Adrian Peterson currently leads the NFL in rushing yards with 1,182. The Vikings know they have a weapon and were not afraid to use him. AP had 30 carries for a whopping 116-yards averaging almost 4 yards per carry, however, he had one fumble in the 4th quarter which cost his team a potential game-winning drive. Teddy Bridgewater also scrambled twice picking up 10-yards and the Vikings touchdown. For the Cards, rookie David Johnson did not rush for nearly 100-yards like he did against the Rams, but he did manage to pick up 66 yards on 18 carries, averaging 3.6 YPC. Even though the Vikings had the advantage on the ground, the Cards were not far behind.
Palmer did a great job of spreading the ball around as Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, and John Brown all had 7 receptions for 87, 80, and 69 yards respectively. Andre Ellington also had 2 catches for 25 yards. Floyd had the touchdown catch during regulation and Brown had the game-winner in overtime. For the Vikings Mike Wallace led the team in receptions and yards with 5 catches for 59 yards.
Sean Weatherspoon led the Cardinals in tackles with 8 solo. Calais Campbell, Alex Okafor, and Tony Jefferson all had one sack in the game. Jerraud Powers came in clutch by forcing Adrian Peterson to fumble late in the fourth quarter and Patrick Peterson had two pass deflections. For the Vikings, Eric Kendricks led the team with 7 tackles while Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffen each had one sack. Terrence Newman was the Viking to pick-off Carson Palmer and halt the Cards momentum early in the game.
Both of the kickers shockingly missed one field goal each which is not common by Madden standards but seems to be happening more and more in the NFL. Blair Walsh missed from 42 while Chandler Catanzaro missed from 56. Walsh hit from 38 and Cat Man hit a gimme from 21.
Overall, this looks to be a game you won't want to miss according to Madden. The Cards take on the Vikings on Thursday Night. Let's hope at least the victor is the same as in this simulation.