Preview: Vikings at Cardinals

Zimmer hopes Vikings show mental toughness

Coming off their worst loss of the season, the Minnesota Vikings hope to have better success against another NFC West opponent when they visit the surging Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. The Vikings absorbed a 38-7 shellacking by visiting Seattle on Sunday and now must contend with the Cardinals, who have ripped off six consecutive victories.

Running back Adrian Peterson created a stir when he said the Vikings were outplayed and “outcoached” in the drubbing by the Seahawks, but he defended his remarks Tuesday. “We are a team. We win together, and we lose together,” Peterson said. “And we lost together. We didn’t play well as players and the coaches didn’t coach well.”

The Cardinals breezed to a 27-3 victory at St. Louis on Sunday to improve to 10-2 for the first time since 1948. Arizona holds a three-game lead over Seattle atop the NFC West and a two-game advantage for the No. 2 seed in the conference.

TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Cardinals -7.5. O/U: 46

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (8-4): Peterson, who leads the NFL with 1,182 rushing yards, was unhappy after receiving only eight carries for 18 yards against Seattle, so Minnesota figures to feed him early and often to keep Arizona’s top-ranked offense off the field. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for a season-low 118 yards in Sunday’s loss and has only three touchdowns against four interceptions in his last six games. Minnesota’s defense had held nine opponents to 20 points or fewer but has surrendered at least 30 in two of the last three contests.

ABOUT THE CARDINALS (10-2): Arizona is averaging a league-best 31.8 points behind quarterback Carson Palmer, who ranks second in the NFL with 29 touchdown passes and has thrown for 3,693 yards. Veteran Larry Fitzerald became the youngest player to reach 1,000 career receptions on Sunday, while fellow wide receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown each went over 100 yards. With running backs Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington injured in a Week 12 victory at San Francisco, rookie David Johnson filled the void by rushing for 99 yards and catching a TD pass in his first NFL start.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Palmer needs one TD pass to match Kurt Warner’s single-season franchise record.

2. Peterson is 18 yards shy of rushing for at least 1,200 yards for the seventh time in nine seasons.

3. Fitzgerald has made at least eight catches in five consecutive games, matching the longest streak of his career.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 27, Vikings 20