Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Arizona Cardinals (1-3 SU 2-2 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-4 SU 1-2-1 ATS) Week 5 NFL Football, Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN, 1 PM ET Saturday October 9, 2011 on FOX
by Jason Green, NFL Handicapper,

Point Spread: Az +2.5/MIN -2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Arizona Cardinals have revived their offense this season and they came within one bad call of winning last week, but at 1-3 they have an uphill battle to make the post-season. However, while the 49ers are at 3-1 every other team in the weak NFC West is 1-3 and Arizona still faces San Francisco twice this season.

The Cardinals have lost 9 straight games on the row and have not won away from the desert since the first game of last season.

Things are not going well in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for the winless Vikings and Donovan McNabb has not resurrected his career guiding the Minnesota Vikings to the league’s 31st ranked passing offense. While the Vikings have had problems holding leads in games they have not been blown out and all of their losses have come by 7 points or less.

Last week the Cardinals lost to the New York Giants 31-27 in the Big Apple and the Vikings were also on the road and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 22-17.

Minnesota has given up first half leads in their last 3 games and McNabb may snap out of his season long slump facing the Cardinals and their 26th ranked passing defense. The Cardinals’ secondary gave up 306 passing yards last week and since they lack playmakers on defense McNabb will not have a huge game, but he will limit mistakes and play well.

Adrian Peterson is coming off another sub-par performance rushing for 80 yards in the loss to K.C. and he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. While the Cardinals and their 15th ranked pass defense held the Giants to only 54 rushing yards they have not-faced a topflight RB with games against Carolina, Washington, Seattle, and New York, so Peterson will have a big game and break the 100-yard marker for the 2nd time this season.

Last season the Cardinals had the worst passing offense in the league and with Kevin Kolb coming over they have been decent passing the ball. However, after a solid QB rating in the first 2 games he has struggled in his last 2 games with only 1 TD and 3 INT. That will change in this game, as he and the solid WR combo of Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet will have a field day facing Minnesota and their 28th ranked passing defense.

One bright spot for the Vikings this season has been their run defense, which ranks 5th in the league. Arizona’s Beanie Wells ran for a career high 138 yards with 3 TD against the Giants. The Vikings will see a very well-balanced offensive attack from Arizona in this game and while I expect they to play well defending the run they will not do the same defending the pass.

Both teams have had issues in the 2nd half this season and which team can stop that this Sunday? The Cardinals are a stellar 6/26 on 3rd down conversions in the 4th quarter this season.

In some betting trends for this NFC clash of the “titans” the Cardinals have only covered the spread one time in their last 5 road games, are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games facing teams that have a winning record, and in their last 5 road games the total has gone UNDER 4 times.

The Vikings are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 home games, 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games as a home favorite, and in their last 5 home games the total has gone Under 4 times.

Jason’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Vikings have only covered the spread one time in their last 5 games facing the Cardinals, but after this Sunday it will be two times. I think McNabb will have a good game with Christian Ponder breathing down his neck and Peterson will have a huge game. Arizona will keep it close behind Kolb, but take the Vikings to win giving only 2.5 points at home.

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