Las Vegas is whipping up a batch of blowout for Thursday night's game between the Vikings and Cardinals in Arizona, making the Cardinals a 7.5-point favorite.
The recipe for getting blown out isn't complicated, and Minnesota, despite having one of the five best records in the NFL, appears to have all the necessary ingredients:
- Put the Vikings in a prime-time situation
- Take away seven key defensive players with injuries
- Add a road game against the 10-2 Cardinals
- Mix in the NFL's highest-scoring offense
- Slow Adrian Peterson with a top-five defense
- Compare Teddy Bridgewater to Christian Ponder
- Get cooked in the desert on short rest
Thursday Night Football could be a night to forget for the Vikings, who are trying to forget about the blowout loss to the Seahawks.
Minnesota was down four safeties – Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum and Robert Blanton – and three other key defensive players – defensive tackle Linval Joseph and linebackers Anthony Barr and Brandon Watts – at Monday's practice, the Star Tribune reports. All of them are dealing with injuries, and there's not a lot of evidence suggesting Smith, Barr and Joseph will play Thursday night.
Exum is out for sure for at least a couple of weeks with broken ribs and a sprained shoulder.
The Cardinals could just as well change their name to the Vultures, because the Vikings probably look like road kill to them.
Arizona is “pretty healthy as far as coming out of that ballgame," head coach Bruce Arians said Monday, per the Arizona Republic.
It gets worse.
Prime time games have been disastrous for the Vikings. Mike Zimmer said earlier this season after a blowout loss on Monday Night Football to the 49ers that he wasn't sure if his team was ready for the limelight. The facts back up the concern.
Minnesota has since lost in the FOX Game of the Week to Green Bay and again in a spotlight game to Seattle. In addition, the Vikings have:
- gone 1-3 on Thursday Night Football since 2007
- lost six straight games on Monday Night Football
- gone 2-8 on Sunday Night Football since 2006
As for Bridgewater's struggles, well ... just take a look at what KFAN's Dan Barreiro said.
"The glaring reality of pro football remains this: If your team is going to be truly legit, even if it relies on the run, the quarterback is going to have a few plays. On Sunday, he looked as if he spent part of the week at a retreat called Camp Christian Ponder."
As hard as Bridgewater has made playing quarterback look, Arizona's Carson Palmer has made it look easy. He's a top-three QB in passing yards (3,693), touchdowns (29) and passer rating (106.3), along with five other key quarterback stats, according to ESPN.
Zimmer called Palmer a legitimate MVP candidate.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater says it "was a little embarrassing" to hear Seahawks edge rusher Bruce Irvin say he Bridgewater played scared Sunday, but he has firmly shifted his focus to Arizona and he isn't playing scared.
Stay tuned, the Thursday Night Game is only about 48 hours away.