NFL 2015 Week 14 Thursday Night Preview: Vikings at Cardinals

December 9, 2015

Week 14 of the 2015 NFL season begins on Thursday night on the NFL Network (8:25 PM ET) with two red-hot teams, as the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) host the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

The Cardinals have won six in a row and lead the NFC West. In last week’s 27-3 win at St. Louis, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight catches for 55 yards, and became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions (32 years, 97 days).

“The personal stuff is all good, but I’ve done all the personal stuff already, like the Pro Bowls,” said Fitzgerald. “That stuff is great but when your team is having success – the only thing I need, personally for me, to feel like my career is fulfilled is a championship. Each win gets us a step closer, and that’s what it’s about.”

Having a healthy Carson Palmer around has made a big difference for Fitzgerald this season, as the Arizona quarterback leads the NFL with a touchdown pass every 14.4 attempts. Palmer has 29 touchdown passes and needs two to pass Kurt Warner (30 in 2008) for the most in a season in franchise history.

“We’re still looking to improve,” said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. “We have to make sure we are improving each week. There is time to look back on the journey and enjoy it but this isn’t it, especially with a game coming on Thursday night.”

Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson (Round 3, No. 86 overall) rushed for 99 yards and added a touchdown reception in Arizona’s victory. Johnson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers as the only rookies in NFL history with at least four rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns, and a kick-return touchdown in a season.

Entering Thursday, Johnson has scored a touchdown in three straight games and his nine total touchdowns leads NFL rookies.

“We control our own destiny so we just have to continue winning,” said Fitzgerald about Arizona’s playoff outlook. “We just have to keep doing what we need to do. It’s going to be a challenge but we understand what we have in front of us.”

Despite last week's 38-7 loss to Seattle, the Vikings also have been playing well lately, winning six of their past eight games. Minnesota enters the final quarter of the season at 8-4, tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North.

“We have no choice but to move past it quickly,” said Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “We have a game in four days and we can’t let this loss linger into the next week, so we want to put this game in the past and shift our focus to Arizona. We’re getting ready to face a pretty good Arizona team, so we just have to make adjustments, get guys healthy and come to play on Thursday.”

Entering Thursday’s game, the Vikings have won 11 of the past 14 matchups against the Cardinals.  One reason for that success has been the productivity of star running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has averaged 118.7 rushing yards per game in his past three games against Arizona, and has scored six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) against the Cardinals in those contests.

Peterson leads the league with 1,182 rushing yards and has five games this season with at least 125 rushing yards. He also has 30 career games with at least 125 rushing yards, and the only players with more are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Barry Sanders (46), Jim Brown (41), Walter Payton (38), Eric Dickerson (36) and Emmitt Smith (34).

In addition, Peterson is tied for second in the league with eight rushing touchdowns. With two rushing touchdowns on Thursday, Peterson would join Emmitt Smith (eight) and LaDainian Tomlinson (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least eight different seasons.

Vikings wide receiver-kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson had a 101-yard kick-return touchdown in last week's game, the fourth of his career. Patterson now has nine career kickoff returns of at least 50 yards, the most in franchise history. Patterson also has 12 career games with at least 100 kickoff return yards, tied with David Palmer for the most such games in franchise history.

On defense, defensive end Brian Robison recorded three tackles and two sacks, while safety Antone Exum, Jr., had five tackles, a forced fumble, and fumble recovery against the Seahawks.


Arizona clinches NFC West division with:
ARI win + SEA loss or tie OR
ARI tie + SEA loss

Arizona clinches a playoff spot with:
ARI win or tie OR
TB loss or tie + ATL loss or tie OR
TB loss or tie + GB win or tie



LB Anthony Barr (groin, hand), DT Linval Joseph (foot), S Andrew Sendejo (knee), S Harrison Smith (knee, hamstring), LB Brandon Watts (rib)

S Robert Blanton (knee)

DE Scott Crichton (ankle)


RB Andre Ellington (toe), CB Jerraud Powers (calf), DT Frostee Rucker (ankle)

TE Jermaine Gresham (knee)
S Tony Jefferson (hamstring), DT Cory Redding (ankle)

WR John Brown (hamstring), WR Larry Fitzgerald (ankle), WR Michael Floyd (hamstring), S Rashad Johnson (ankle), LS Mike Leach (knee), RB Stepfan Taylor (shoulder)

By Staff of and news services

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