• While Sunday’s game with the Cardinals is obviously big for the Vikings, who desperately want to end their four-game losing streak, it’s worth noting that regardless of the outcome of this game, Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup between the Vikings and Lions in Detroit will determine which team controls its destiny in the NFC North with only five games remaining in the season after that. If the Vikings lose to Arizona and beat Detroit, they would still reclaim first place because they would have the tiebreaker for the time being.
• Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer have a long history in the league. It took Arians 20 seasons to become a head coach and it took Zimmer 20 seasons to become one as well. They faced off last season in Arizona as head coaches, but the two also had some real battles in the AFC North from 2008 to ’11, when Arians was the offensive coordinator of the Steelers and Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Bengals.
• If the statistics are any indication, passing the ball will be difficult Sunday for both squads at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cardinals are ranked second in the NFL in opponents’ passer rating at 71.2 while the Vikings are third at 74.6. And the Cardinals are third in opponents’ completion percentage at 58.3 percent, and the Vikings are fourth at 58.5 percent.
• While the Vikings special teams have been under turmoil because of Blair Walsh’s kicking, punter Jeff Locke is having a career season. He already has 23 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, which ties the best mark of his career, and he still has seven games to play. He is also averaging 40.0 yards per punt, the second-highest mark in Vikings history.
• Speaking of history, Cordarrelle Patterson is now the Vikings’ all-time kick return leader with 3,659 yards, passing Darrin Nelson, who had 3,623 yards. Patterson did it in 36 fewer games than Nelson as well.