Game Preview: Cardinals at Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1) return home after two consecutive road games for a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals (1-4) at U.S Bank Stadium. The game, scheduled to kick off at noon (CT) Sunday, will be the 28th contest between the two franchises and the 15th played in Minnesota.

The Cardinals are coming off a 28-18 road win at San Francisco, the first victory of Cardinals Head Coach Steve Wilks’ career. The Vikings captured their first road victory of the season in a 23-21 win at Philadelphia, a rematch of the 2017 NFC Championship Game.

Minnesota enters Week 6 ranking third in the NFL in passing yards per game with a 321.4 mark through five games. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 1,688 yards, the second-highest total in the NFL. Cousins is one of four QBs (along with Drew Brees, Jared Goff and Matt Ryan) to rank in the top 10 in each of the following categories - completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2018.

WR Adam Thielen is off to a record-breaking start, recording 47 receptions (first in the NFL) for 589 yards (second in the NFL) and setting new franchise marks for the most through the first five weeks of a season. Thielen and Stefon Diggs join Steelers WRs Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster as the only WR duos in the league to each rank in the top 10 in receptions.

The Vikings defense, which ranks 21st in yards allowed (378.0 per game) in 2018, has held opponents to a third-down conversion rate of 29.6 percent, the third lowest in the NFL, and is one of four units in the NFL to have multiple defensive touchdowns (two), trailing only the Bengals (three).

TELEVISION:

FOX (KMSP in Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Play-by-Play: Sam Rosen

Analyst: Ronde Barber

Sideline: Shane Bacon

LOCAL RADIO:

KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10 a.m. (CT)

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

SATELLITE RADIO

Sirius: 106 or Streaming 800 (AZ); 113 or Streaming 819 (MIN)

XM: Streaming 800 (AZ); 231 or Streaming 819 (MIN)

NORSE NOTES

WR Adam Thielen’s 47 receptions are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks of a season. Michael Thomas (NO) ranks second with 46 catches in 2018. Wes Welker (45 in 2011) held the previous mark.

Thielen is the only player in the Super Bowl era to start the season with five consecutive games with 100 or more receiving yards.

Vikings DE Danielle Hunter is the only player in the NFL to record a sack in each of the first five weeks. Hunter's five-game streak is a career high for consecutive games with a sack.

In Week 3 vs. Buffalo, TE Kyle Rudolph caught his 17th touchdown pass dating back to the start of the 2016 season, tied with Packers TE Jimmy Graham for the most in the NFL by a tight end.

Since the start of the 2017 season, safety Harrison Smith has six interceptions and 3.5 sacks; he is the only player in the NFL to have at least four interceptions and at least 3.0 sacks in that span.

QB Kirk Cousins’ 1,688 passing yards are the second-most passing yards through five games to start a season, trailing Daunte Culpepper who threw for 1,766 yards in 2004. Cousins’ 11 touchdown passes are tied for the second-most in team history through five games, also trailing Culpepper (18 in 2004).

Cousins, who completed 35 passes in Week 2, 40 passes in Week 3, 36 passes in Week 4, and 30 in Week 5, is the first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in four consecutive games. ​

WR Stefon Diggs’ 37 receptions are tied for seventh in the NFL, and his 402 receiving yards rank 19th.

Rudolph (345 receptions) ranks eighth all-time in team history, Diggs (237 receptions) ranks 16th all-time in team history, and Thielen (227 receptions) ranks 17th all-time in Vikings history.

Rudolph has started a league-leading (among TEs) 54 consecutive games, which is the longest streak for any TE all-time in Vikings team history.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Vikings DE Danielle Hunter has 30.5 career sacks, which is tied for the fifth-highest total for any player prior to turning 24. Hunter turns 24 on Oct. 29.

1. Shawne Merriman, 39.5 with Chargers

2. Aldon Smith, 38 with 49ers

3. Robert Quinn, 34.5 with Rams

4. Terrell Suggs, 33.5 with Ravens

5t. Danielle Hunter, 30.5 with Vikings

5t. Mario Williams, 30.5 with Texans

7t. Von Miller, 30 with Broncos

7t. Derrick Thomas, 30 with Chiefs

VIKINGS-CARDINALS CONNECTIONS

Cardinals QB Sam Bradford played for the Vikings from 2016-17, starting 17 games for the team, posting a 9-8 record and totaling 23 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 101.1 passer rating while with Minnesota.

Terry Allen, who enters his second season with the Cardinals as the Bill Bidwill Fellowship/RBs coach after joining Arizona’s staff in May 2017, was a ninth-round pick by the Vikings in 1990 and played for Minnesota until 1994. Allen had 641 carries for 2,795 yards and 23 touchdowns and 72 receptions for 675 yards and 3 scores in his 47 career games (38 starts) as a Viking.

Cardinals Offensive Assistant Cam Turner served as the Vikings Assistant to the Head Coach from 2011-12.

Cardinals RBs Coach Kirby Wilson held the same post for the Vikings from 2014-15.

Cardinals Director of College Scouting Dru Grigson signed as a rookie free agent with the Vikings in 2003.

Cardinals WR Kendall Wright spent the 2018 offseason with the Vikings.

Cardinals FB Derrick Coleman signed with the Vikings as a rookie free agent in 2012 and spent the entire offseason with the team before being cut in late August.

Cardinals DE Ifeadi Odenigbo was a seventh-round selection for the Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft and spent the entire 2017 season on Minnesota’s practice squad. Odenigbo was released by the Vikings on Sept. 1, 2018.

Cardinals T Andre Smith spent the 2016 season with the Minnesota Vikings where he started the first four games of the season at RT before being placed on IR with a season-ending injury.

Cardinals DE Zach Moore spent 2015 with the Vikings and was with the team throughout the 2016 offseason before being released during final cuts.

Cardinals LB Gerald Hodges was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by Minnesota. Hodges spent 2013-15 with the Vikings.

Local Connections

Vikings COO Kevin Warren is a Tempe, Arizona, native and attended Grand Canyon University where he played basketball. Warren earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Grand Canyon University before earning his MBA from Arizona State. Warren was inducted into the Grand Canyon University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Arizona Cardinals Executive VP/COO Ron Minegar earned his master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota. Minegar also worked as the Director of Corporate Sales for the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1991-95.

Vikings Executive Director of Player Development/Legal Les Pico is a native of Mesa, Arizona, and attended Scottsdale Community College where he was decorated QB and team MVP. Pico later attended Arizona State where he received his bachelor’s in criminal justice.

Cardinals Assistant OL Coach Steve Heiden is from Rushford, Minnesota. He attended college at South Dakota State University. Heiden began his coaching career at Concordia University in St. Paul in 2012 after an 11-year career in the NFL.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald was a two-time All-State and prep All-America WR at Academy of the Holy Angels High School in his hometown of Minneapolis. Fitzgerald also served as a ball boy at Vikings games during his youth.

Vikings assistant special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken played WR at Arizona State University from 1998-99.

VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. CARDINALS

Defense

Danielle Hunter: 2 games, 5 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 QB hits, 3 TFL

Xavier Rhodes: 2 games, 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 5 PD, 100-yard INT return TD

Harrison Smith: 2 games, 12 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 INT, 31-yard INT return TD

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. CARDINALS

WR Aldrick Robinson caught five passes for 70 yards in two games vs. the Cardinals in 2017 including a three-catch 52-yard game in which all three receptions converted a first down.

CB Xavier Rhodes had a career day vs. Arizona (Nov. 20, 2016) recording his lone career game with multiple interceptions and returning one 100 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return for a touchdown in team history.

Last season as a member of the Redskins, QB Kirk Cousins led his team to a win vs. Arizona (Dec. 17), completing 18 of 26 attempts for 196 yards and two touchdowns, totaling a 116.8 passer rating.

DE Danielle Hunter corralled his fourth career sack at Arizona (Dec. 10, 2015) and his 11th and 12th career sacks vs. Arizona (Nov. 20, 2016), totaling 3.0 sacks in two career games against the Cardinals.

As a rookie in 2012, S Harrison Smith recorded his first career interception and his first career touchdown vs. Arizona (Oct. 21, 2012) after picking off a pass and returning it 31 yards for a score.

VIKINGS-CARDINALS SERIES NOTES

Minnesota has won 16 of 27 games in the series, including 10 of 14 at home.

The Vikings and Cardinals have played in two overtime games with Minnesota winning both.

The Vikings and Cardinals have met two times in the playoffs with both matchups coming in the Divisional Round. Minnesota is 2-0 in playoff games vs. Arizona.

Entering Sunday's game, the Vikings have won nine straight home games against the Cardinals.

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