Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Playoff matchup could favor Cardinals
By Mike Sando
Football Outsiders' Vince Verhei has put together an Insider piece suggesting the Cardinals appear built to exploit the Vikings' weaknesses.
The piece also points out how the Cardinals and Vikings are likely to face one another in the playoffs. Minnesota will almost certainly be the second seed in the NFC. Arizona has a good shot at the third seed.
"As a team, the Vikings have been stuffed for no gain or a loss on 25 percent of their carries, the highest figure in the league," Verhei writes. "They usually make up for that with plenty of long runs -- they've gained 27 percent of their rushing yards more than 10 yards downfield, a higher share than any team except Tennessee and San Francisco -- but their running game, while explosive, is terribly unreliable. That makes a matchup with Arizona particularly bad news, because the Cardinals are the NFL's best team at stuffing opposing runners, doing so on 27 percent of all carries. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it was -- Peterson was stuffed for no gain or a loss seven times in 13 carries Sunday night. His longest run of the night was 11 yards; his other 12 carries gained a total of 8 yards."
Also worth noting: Arizona might never have to venture outdoors during the playoffs. As the third seed, the Cardinals would play any postseason road game in the Metrodome or Superdome. The team keeps the roof closed at University of Phoenix Stadium in part because quarterback Kurt Warner likes it that way.