SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead, 14-11. Minnesota has owned the series recently, winning four of the past five meetings. A big reason for the success has been a defense that has limited Arizona to an average of 19 points per game in the past five contests. In the last meeting on Nov. 20, 2016, Xavier Rhodes returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, setting a team record and defensive end Danielle Hunter had two sacks. The Vikings have won the past nine games against the Cardinals in Minnesota.
--DE Everson Griffen was away from the team on Wednesday as it resumed practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against Arizona. Griffen is likely to miss his fourth straight game while he deals with a mental health issue.
--QB Kirk Cousins has lived up to his big contract in the offseason as Minnesota has been reliant on the passing attack. The Vikings are third in the league in passing and Cousins has thrown for 1,688 yards, the second-highest total in the NFL. Cousins is the first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in four consecutive games.
“In the first few weeks, we felt like throwing the football, getting pass attempts so our best athletes on the outside can make plays was our best chance to move the football and to score points,” Cousins said. “That may not be the case every week but it’s given us a chance to be explosive early in the season and we’ll see if it can continue.”
--WR Adam Thielen established an NFL record last week with his fifth straight game of at least 100 receiving yards. It’s the first time in the Super Bowl era that a player has had five straight games of 100 yards receiving to start a season.
“We were doing good things last year as well,” Thielen said this week. “But when you have a franchise quarterback like we have now, and you have the guys that we have in this locker room that are very selfless and a coaching staff that works their tails off to put us in good positions, all that together is usually a pretty good thing.”
--DE Danielle Hunter is the only player in the NFL this season to record a sack in each of the first five weeks. Hunter has 30.5 sacks in his four NFL seasons and is tied for the fifth-highest total for any player before turning 24 years old. Hunter turns 24 on Oct. 29. He trails the leader, Shawne Merriman, by nine sacks. Terrell Suggs is fourth with 33.5 sacks before turning 24.
--DT Linval Joseph might have surprised some with his 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown in last week’s win against Philadelphia, but coach Mike Zimmer knew the 329-pounder was athletic. “I know what kind of athlete he is for a big, big man,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a lot of physicality. He’s a very, very good athlete and it shows all the time when he’s making plays on the perimeter. I knew he could run. In practice every day he shows something that is very athletic for his size and strength.”
--Minnesota might be forced to make more changes along the offensive line if left tackle Riley Reiff is not recovered from a foot injury. Reiff left last week’s game early with right tackle Rashod Hill moving over to the left side in place of Rieff. Rookie Brian O’Neill took over at right tackle.
“I thought they did pretty well,” Zimmer said. “O’Neill battled really well, did some good things and then, honestly, Rashod when he went over there, his technique was probably a little bit better.” It would be the third time in six weeks the Vikings are forced to start a different line combination.
--DE Stephen Weatherly has shown continued improvement as he’s started three straight games in place of Everson Griffen. Weatherly, the seventh-round draft pick in 2016 out of Vanderbilt, has two sacks, a forced fumble and 13 total tackles in the three games.
“When he first came here in the first little bit, he was a guy that would stop his feet on the rush, kind of measure,” Zimmer said. “Now, he’s just rushing and using his athletic abilities. If the guy oversets, he comes inside. If he sets too tight, he works the outside edge. I think he’s just getting a better feel of it. But the No. 1 thing is not stopping his feet.”
BY THE NUMBERS: 47 – receptions by Adam Thielen through five games this season, which is the most in NFL history for a player five games into the season. Thielen is on pace for 150 receptions, which would beat the NFL single-season record of 143 set by Marvin Harrison in 2002.
--CB Trae Waynes was cleared from concussion protocol and returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis. Waynes missed last week’s win because of the concussion but said he feels “good, ready to go.”
--RB Dalvin Cook was limited on Wednesday to start the week’s practice as he tries to come back from a hamstring injury. Cook was held out of last week’s games because of the injury, his second inactive in three weeks. Cook has totaled 36 carries in three games this season.
--LT Riley Reiff didn’t practice on Wednesday as he deals with a foot injury. Reiff was a full participant in last week’s practices but had to leave Sunday’s game early because of the injury. Rashod Hill moved to left tackle in place of Reiff with rookie Brian O’Neill taking Hill’s spot at right tackle.
--S Andrew Sendejo was new to the injury report this week and he didn’t practice on Wednesday because of a groin injury. Sendejo played every snap of Sunday’s game.
--DE Tashawn Bower missed Wednesday’s practice due to an ankle injury. Bower hasn’t practiced since being limited on Oct. 3.
--CB/returner Marcus Sherels returned to full practice on Wednesday from a ribs injury. Sherels was limited all last week in practice and was inactive for Sunday’s win at Philadelphia. Sherels has missed three games with the injury.
--DE Everson Griffen was still missing as the team returned to practice on Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s game against Arizona. Griffen, who is dealing with a mental health issue, has missed three games.
--WR Tavarres King was released by the Vikings on Tuesday from the injured reserve list.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: OT Rashod Hill. With Riley Reiff missing practice on Wednesday, left tackle duties may slide to Hill, who would have to try and stop Arizona defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones, who has four sacks this season, is coming off NFC defensive player of the week honors after he dominated San Francisco last weekend. Jones had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection. Hill doesn’t have much experience on the left side and he would be responsible for slowing one of the league’s top pass rushers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. Peterson is one of the league’s top shadow cornerbacks but Arizona will have to pick its spots with Peterson because of the effectiveness of Diggs and Adam Thielen. Peterson will most likely draw Diggs on the outside with Thielen playing out of the slot. Diggs against Peterson is one of the prime receiver-cornerback matchups the league can offer this season and it will be fun to watch two of the league’s best at their position matching up.
Vikings LB Eric Kendricks vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. Kendricks will likely draw a lot of the responsibility for covering Johnson, whether its stopping the run or following Johnson out of the backfield. Johnson had a slow start to the season, but Arizona has gotten him going the past two weeks with more usage. He had 20 total touches last week for 71 yards and two touchdowns. The previous week he had a season-high 22 carries and added 41 yards receiving. Minnesota has given up 18 catches for 275 yards to running backs this season.