Pity the Vikings. They get routed at home by Seattle, lose three defensive starters, then have a short week and a trip west to Arizona.
And the Cardinals have been even better than the Seahawks this season.
It’s a difficult chore NFC North co-leader Minnesota faces, particularly if nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot), linebacker Anthony Barr (groin/hand) and safety Harrison Smith (hamstring/knee) are not available. Those are some of the best players at each level on the defense.
One solution against the high-powered Cardinals (No. 2 in AP Pro32) would be feeding the ball to Adrian Peterson as much as possible. The problem there: Arizona ranks fourth in rushing defense.
Peterson, who complained he wasn’t used enough in the 38-7 loss to the Seahawks, is eager to get more carries against the Cardinals.
“That’s the mindset of a player that wants to be great,” Peterson says. “You want to be able to, when your number is called, to be able to make plays. Of course I would be frustrated when you think about eight carries. But with the game getting away from us, that is what it is.”
A 7-point favorite, the Cardinals also can clinch the NFC West with a victory over Minnesota (No. 10 in AP Pro32) and a Seattle loss.
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP:
Pro Picks got knocked flat again, this time by the Bears. Anyone who has lasted this long in a survival pool this season is a genius. We’re not, but will go for KANSAS CITY this week.
No. 17 Washington (plus 3) at No. 20 (tie) Chicago
Bears would be best team in NFC East right now. So …
BEST BET: BEARS, 23-16
No. 12 Buffalo (plus 1) at No. 16 Philadelphia
Even after that win in Foxborough, we don’t have faith in Eagles.
UPSET SPECIAL: BILLS, 19-17
No. 8 Pittsburgh (plus 3) at No. 4 Cincinnati
Bengals’ shot at top seed in AFC takes a hit.
No. 18 Oakland (plus 7) at No. 3 Denver
Broncos’ shot at top seed in AFC remains viable.
No. 20 (tie) Atlanta (plus 7) at No. 1 Carolina
Panthers have little worry about getting top seed in NFC.
No. 22 Dallas (plus 9) at No. 9 Green Bay
Maybe this one will finish off “Cowboys are contenders” talk.
No. 6 Seattle (minus 5) at No. 29 Baltimore
Seahawks are looking like contender for third straight Super Bowl trip.
No. 31 San Diego (plus 10) at No. 7 Kansas City
No team is playing better in AFC than Chiefs, who go for seventh straight win.
No. 28 Tennessee (plus 7) at No. 11 New York Jets
Jets don’t do anything easily.
No. 19 New York Giants (minus 1) at No. 24 Miami, Monday night
Giants don’t do anything easily, either. Must be a Meadowlands thing.
No. 5 New England (minus 3) at No. 15 Houston
Position meetings must have been fun this week for Patriots.
No. 26 New Orleans (plus 4) at No. 14 Tampa Bay
Have to love what Lovie has done with Bucs. Not so much what’s going on in Big Easy.
No. 23 Detroit (pick-em) at No. 28 St. Louis
Who really cares, Part 1?
No. 25 San Francisco (plus 3) at No. 32 Cleveland
Who really cares, Part 2?
No. 13 Indianapolis (OFF) at No. 30 Jacksonville
Must win for Colts in AFC South race.
2015 RECORD: Against spread: Week 6-10, Season (93-87-5). Straight up: Week 10-6, Season (118-74)
Best Bet: 6-6-1 against spread, 8-5 straight up.
Upset special: 7-6 against spread, 4-9 straight up.
AP website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL