Football

NFL GameDay: Contenders battle in house of Cards

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, third in the NFL in passing yards (3,693) and on pace for the finest season of his 12-year career, leads the Cardinals against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night on NFL Network.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, third in the NFL in passing yards (3,693) and on pace for the finest season of his 12-year career, leads the Cardinals against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night on NFL Network. AP

Minnesota (8-4) at Arizona (10-2)

7:25 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network

Line: Cardinals by 8 1/2

Playoff contenders duel in the desert. NFC North co-leading Vikes, weakened by layered defensive injuries (DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr, S Harrison Smith), couldn’t keep pace with Seattle’s re-energized offense in 35-7 blowout at home. Vikings’ pass-weak offense (one 300-yard effort this season) isn’t built to score, but to run clock behind NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson (1,182 yards). When he’s neutralized, as he was by Seahawks (18 yards on eight carries), hope is gone. NFC West front-running Cardinals’ attack features offense ranked No. 1 in scoring (31.8) and yards (419.5) with QB Carson Palmer, who has 15 TD passes and four interceptions the past six games — all wins — while averaging 326 yards passing per game. Cards also boast fourth-ranked defense in points (19.3) and yards (316.8) and are 4-1 at home. Vikes have won past four on road, but all against sub-.500 competition.

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