The Minnesota Vikings (5-1) are fresh off their bye and will host the Arizona Cardinals (3-4), who had a few more days to prepare after beating the Saints on Thursday night. While these teams seem to be heading in opposite directions from where they started a year ago, the gap between them may not be as big as the records suggest.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, October 30, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium
Last Time They Met
This is a rematch from Week 2 last season when the Cardinals erased an early 20-7 deficit on their way to a 34-33 comeback win.
Kyler Murray was able to throw for 400 yards and account for 4 total touchdowns while leading a game-winning drive for a field goal in the 4th quarter. It was rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore’s breakout game with 7 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown on a 77-yard play. Unfortunately, it remains the only touchdown of Moore’s NFL career, and he had more yards on that one touchdown (77) than he’s had in any other game of his career.
But the Minnesota offense had a very good game too with Kirk Cousins passing for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns and running back Dalvin Cook having 131 rushing yards. Cousins led the offense into position for a game-winning field goal on the final snap, but kicker Greg Joseph failed on a 37-yard attempt in typical Minnesota kicker fashion.
That was arguably the toughest loss of the season for the Vikings, who would finish 8-9 and miss the playoffs again. Meanwhile, the Cardinals started the season 7-0, but the Vikings were the only offense to score more than 20 points on them during that run before the team would later fall apart and finish 11-7 with a one-and-done playoff loss.
It should have been 36 points, and the Vikings should have been 1-1 just like Arizona. Now we’ll see if 2022 truly is different for this Minnesota team and if it can finish the close games.
How Have the Vikings Changed?
Those final years of the Minnesota tenure for coach Mike Zimmer were tricky because some of the individual player stats would look great, but then you look at the team ratings and everything was in the teens with the team finishing a game around .500.
It was time for Zimmer to go, especially after the defense fell off in his final years. Enter rookie coach Kevin O’Connell from the Sean McVay coaching tree. He is supposed to be an offensive guru with a shiny ring that won with the Rams last year, but has the offense really taken a big leap forward?
- 2021: Vikings ranked 14th in points, and 12th in yards, and Cousins was 15th in QBR (58.3).
- 2022: Vikings rank 14th in points, and 18th in yards, and Cousins is 17th in QBR (51.3).
That is not a move into the top 10. The difference has been on defense where the Vikings are allowing nearly 6 fewer points per game, though scoring is also down around the league in 2022.
Are the Vikings Really That Improved?
Maybe the biggest change in Minnesota is simply the fact that the team has played 6 games against teams that are unlikely to win double-digit games outside of the Eagles, who smacked them 24-7 in a typical Monday night disappointment for this team.
The Packers and Saints look as bad as they have in many years. The Lions are still losing almost every week and were playing terrible defense for the first month of the season. The Bears still stink, yet Minnesota nearly blew a 21-3 lead in that game. The Vikings just won in Miami, which was playing its backup quarterbacks with Tua Tagovailoa out.
Minnesota had three 4th-quarter comebacks 3 weeks in a row against Detroit, New Orleans, and Chicago, or 3of the bottom 4 teams in the NFC going into Week 8. Winning those games is better than losing them as the Vikings used to, but don’t take the 5-1 start too seriously yet. This team is still a lot closer to the Minnesota team we are used to seeing than what the record suggests.
Are the Cardinals Getting Better?
One thing not up for debate is that Minnesota has performed better than Arizona this season. The Cardinals are middling on offense behind Kyler Murray, and the defense is below average to produce this 3-4 start that includes one miracle comeback against the Raiders.
However, October has not been as bad of a month for the Cardinals, and we know they usually do their best work this time of year under Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury.
How Have They Done So Far?
The Cardinals were able to beat the Saints 42-34 last week thanks to a couple of pick-sixes in the 2nd quarter, but the offense also had its best game of the season with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins making his debut after a 6-game suspension. Hopkins was an immediate factor with 10 catches for 103 yards. He helps make the game easier for Murray.
Just a few weeks ago, the Cardinals hosted the undefeated Eagles and pushed them into a 4th-quarter tie, the only team to do that so far to Philadelphia this season. But the Eagles got a go-ahead field goal, and the Cardinals missed a 43-yard field goal with their backup kicker that would have forced overtime. Still, they are the only team to hold the Eagles to 20 points this season.
Arizona also held Cooper Kupp to 44 yards in Week 3, ending his record streak of consecutive games with 90-plus yards. Kupp has been held under 80 yards just 3 times since 2021, and the Cardinals did it to him every time.
Shutting Down Justin Jefferson
Arizona also held Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson to 65 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches in the meeting last year. The dynamic receiver has gone over 100 yards in his last 3 games, but we have also seen him held to a career-low 14 yards against Detroit.
The Cardinals have had some success at keeping down No. 1 wideouts, so they may have a plan to not let Jefferson go off in this matchup too.
Cardinals vs. Vikings: Best Bets and Prediction
Any supposed bye-week advantage for Minnesota is negated by the Cardinals playing on a Thursday and getting a few more days than usual to prepare too.
With Hopkins back at wide receiver, look for Murray to play better against a familiar defense he shredded for 400 yards last season. He won’t be that good again, but this game should be high scoring enough to hit the Over with the Vikings allowing a league-worst 8.4 yards per pass attempt. You should also strongly consider DeAndre Hopkins to score his 1st touchdown of the season after getting 14 targets last week.
Maybe the Vikings pull out another close one here, but the best bet for your NFL picks is to take the Cardinals with the points.
Score Prediction: Vikings 27 - Cardinals 24
NFL Pick: DeAndre Hopkins Anytime Touchdown Scorer (Odds TBD)
NFL Pick: Cardinals +3.5 (-110) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.