The Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings were both expected to finish near the bottom of the standings, but each has emerged as a surprisingly successful team early in the season.
But heading into their Week 7 matchup against each other, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said he expects both teams will continue to win and see their success translate into a playoff birth.
“We’ve both made jumps from last year to this year and as the Minnesota Vikings we expect this to continue and that we’re going to be playing in the playoffs,” said Ponder. “I have a feeling that’s exactly what the Cardinals are feeling as well. They’ve got a great defense that’s going to keep them in it. They’re going to keep getting better and stringing wins together and that’s what we expect as well.”
It should come as no surprise that Ponder credits the Cardinals’ defense with their early season success, as Arizona’s 10th ranked defense has been praised by nearly every opposing team they’ve faced this year.
“There’s a lot of different stuff that they do, but they’re very good at what they do,” said Ponder. ” A lot of times when you see teams that show a bunch of different looks, they aren’t really sound in what they do, but they’re really sound in what they do and they have a lot of good players. They’re a very tough defense, and it’s going to be a tough challenge for us as an offense.”
Ponder, who’s been sacked 13 times this season, went on to say that he has his eyes specifically on the Cardinals pass rush.
“They’ve got a number of guys that have been able to get to the quarterback,” said Ponder. “Between [O’Brien Schofield],Calais [Campbell] and Daryl Washington. We’re going to have a tough job on our hands to be able to protect. Our offensive line is going to have to do a good job. A lot of guys are getting to the quarterback and they’re using good hands. Everyone’s athletic. It’s going to be tough for us. Those are guys that we’ve kind of singled out that we’re going to have to protect against.”
While this game may not be a divisional battle, a victory could serve as a significant momentum shift in the wild card picture down the road.