Boom or Bust Candidates: Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals

Week 6 boom: Christian Darrisaw – MEH
Week 6 bust: Patrick Peterson – MISS

The Minnesota Vikings come off of their bye week ready to establish themselves as a contender in the NFC. At 5-1, the Vikings have done enough to win close games, but have left plenty of room for improvement. Some bye week adjustments could be significant in predicting who will shine for the Vikings this week against the Arizona Cardinals, and also who may disappoint.

Boom: Dalvin Cook
Head Coach Kevin O’Connell discussed this week that the Vikings need to do a better job establishing the run game on early downs. This signals a heavier workload for Dalvin Cook moving forward. The Vikings currently have the second fewest rushing attempts in the league, a surprising fact considering the caliber of their starting running back. The run game may no longer be the identity of the Vikings, but it does need to be focused on more. Last year against the Cardinals, Cook totalled 131 rushing yards on 22 carries, averaging nearly six yards per carry. Many of these carries went for 10+ yards behind an offensive line which created gaping holes against an underwhelming defensive line. Although the Cardinals run defense has improved since then, they are far from a top tier unit. If the Vikings prioritize some of O’Connell’s focal points in this week’s gameplan, Cook will feast.

Bust: Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson had his best game of the season in Week 6 prior to the bye week, but his matchup this week could be problematic. O’Connell mentioned this week that he wants to move Peterson into a press man coverage role more often going forward, which places way more pressure on Peterson. Although he has succeeded in this role for years, his age could limit his effectiveness in man coverage. Throughout the year, the Vikings defense has been criticized for being too conservative against the pass, but increased aggressiveness this week may backfire. Peterson will likely oppose DeAndre Hopkins, whose diverse skill set will probably outmatch the aging Peterson. In last year’s Vikings vs. Cardinals game, Kyler Murray threw for 400 yards, much of which came from his extension of plays. If Murray creates off script this week as he often does, Peterson will be forced to guard Hopkins longer than the Vikings would desire. The Vikings would be better off with Peterson playing off coverage this week, but O’Connell’s hopes of a more aggressive defensive strategy may come true.
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