Michael Russo, the Star Tribune’s hockey scribe, joins our coverage team tonight in the desert, so expect tweeting about the line changes and neutral zone coverage. He also joins the crew for this week’s Bold Predictions segment as we look into the crystal ball on the Vikings-Cardinals game …
MATT VENSEL, Vikings beat writer
With three key defensive starters and seemingly every safety in the five-state area out with injuries, this one is going to get ugly. The Cardinals, who have the league’s top offense and a MVP candidate in Carson Palmer, will get touchdowns from four different receivers in a prime time rout.
MARK CRAIG, On the NFL columnist
I believe “bold prediction” is the French term for “a bad idea designed to make NFL writers look like buffoons because they can’t boldly predict the future.” With the world expecting a blowout Cardinals win, the Vikings take a halftime lead but lose by only seven because their best defensive players had no chance of healing in time to play another game for a league that claims to be concerned about player safety.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
For perhaps the first time in his career, we’ll see Teddy Bridgewater playing angry. Last week an old friend called him “scared,’” and he wilted under both real and imaginary pressure. Tonight he doesn’t lead the Vikings to a victory but he reestablishes himself as a good young quarterback who can move a team under difficult circumstances. Either that, or the Vikings lose 31-6 and he gets benched.
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
With the Vikings defense and secondary beat up, Larry Fitzgerald will eclipse 100 receiving yards and catch two touchdowns against his hometown team.
MICHAEL RAND, Page 2 columnist
With a banged up defense and a quarterback licking his wounds — both physical and emotional — after Sunday’s drubbing, the Vikings will get unexpectedly creative on offense. They’ll put Teddy Bridgewater in the shotgun almost exclusively, much to the chagrin of Adrian Peterson. The Vikings will keep pace for a while before falling 38-27 to Arizona, but more importantly it will restore their QB’s confidence and make fans think they might just have a chance going forward.
JASON GONZALEZ, jack of all trades
Star running back Adrian Peterson’s demands will be met and he’ll run the ball to his heart’s content on Thursday night. And though he said he has nothing to prove, Peterson will make sure he backs up his bold comments from the past week and run for at least 100 yards. But it still won’t be enough to beat the 10-2 Cardinals in Arizona.
MICHAEL RUSSO, tonight’s Vikings sidebar guy and still Russo’s Rants
With half the Star Tribune sports staff sunbathing and poolside in Arizona with the Minnesota sports trifecta — Vikings, Wild and Wolves — in the Valley of the Sun the next four days, the editors, in their grand wisdom, recruited the hockey guy to help with Vikes coverage. The good news is I’m fairly sure the Vikes won’t lose in 3-on-3 overtime like their hockey counterpart may across the parking lot Friday. The bad news is MVP candidate Carson Palmer will pick apart the Vikes’ neutral-zone trap for fun … in a Cardinals win.
CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader
With the world picking against the Vikings, and injuries weighing them down, they throw caution to the wind on defense and blitz randomly and effectively; throw in a fake punt and a wide receiver option pass on offense; and score the upset under the blazing hot moon, winning in overtime as we miss all our print deadlines.