Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings Week 2 Predictions: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
The Arizona Cardinals looked dominant in a Week 1 road blowout of the Tennessee Titans. They play in an NFC West division that appears loaded and should be competitive all year, especially after all four teams won their season openers. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings suffered a disappointing road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but all was not lost, considering the other three NFC North teams lost their first game. Will the differing perceptions surrounding the Vikings and Cardinals impact our decision about how this week's game will play out?
Minnesota Vikings Preview
If you had told anyone in the Vikings organization that they would attempt 50 passes and run the ball just 22 times, most would have agreed that the imbalanced offense would be a recipe for a loss. Minnesota could not get their running game going with Dalvin Cook, who averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. That performance comes on the heels of a 2020 season where he finished second in the league in rushing and averaged 5.0 yards per attempt. The negative game script forced Minnesota to abandon the run early, as they found themselves trailing 21-7 late into the third quarter. The Vikings have several things to clear up this week, especially their 12 penalties for 116 yards.
Arizona Cardinals Preview
Many people were ready to anoint Kyler Murray as the MVP of the league last year after a tremendous Week 1 performance in a win over the 49ers. Bettors are lining up at the windows to wager on Murray's MVP odds after throwing for 289 yards and accounting for five total touchdowns in a big win over the Titans. Per BetMGM, Murray's odds went from +2500 before their Week 1 result to +900 odds after the game to win NFL MVP. ESPN's FPI is not as sold on Murray's ability equating to team success, as they still have the fourth-worst odds (17%) to win the NFC West.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings Betting Preview
Minnesota's offensive line was a liability in Week 1, as they allowed five sacks and could not pave running lanes for Dalvin Cook to run through. They now have to contend with Arizona's Chandler Jones, who racked up five sacks all by himself in their win over Tennessee, while also forcing two fumbles. The way to negate a fierce pass rush like that is to have balance offensively and to generate a consistent running game that will open things up for play-action passes. For the Vikings to cover this +4.5 spread, they must not fall behind early as they did against the Bengals.
The Vikings' offensive line issues could have had a lot to do with limited reps with quarterback Kirk Cousins late in training camp after testing positive for COVID-19. That seemed to be a similar issue that the Titans were dealing with last week, as Ryan Tannehill also missed valuable time in training camp due to COVID-19. Another week further removed from the illness should help Cousins form better cohesion with his offensive line ahead of this matchup.
While Arizona's defense will be applauded for limiting Tennessee's Derrick Henry to just 58 yards rushing last week, a similar negative game script like in Minnesota's Week 1 game forced the Titans to throw more than they wanted to. Let's not forget that Arizona ranked 22nd against the run last year and allowed 125.5 rushing yards per game last year, so they likely did not fix those issues with one positive result.
While Tennessee did not take advantage of an inexperienced Arizona secondary, Minnesota is built to do just that. The Cardinals are still an inexperienced group on the back end, with a 2019 second-round pick being their most veteran member. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen will challenge this Cardinals secondary that rotates in two rookies and an undrafted free agent from last year. The two receivers each saw at least nine targets. They will have plenty of opportunities to build upon their 163 combined receiving yards from Week 1, especially if the pressure is taken off them by an effective running game.
The casual bettor is looking at the two complete opposite performances from these teams in Week 1 and is expecting a Cardinals blowout. Further making Arizona's case is that Minnesota is 0-8 ATS in their last eight games and that the home team has won the last seven head-to-head meetings between these teams. As a result, sportsbooks everywhere will likely need the Vikings to cover in Week 2, and we prefer to be on the side of the house.