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Cards Ready for a Showdown with the Vikings

For the first time in their history, the Cardinals enter a game as NFC West champions after their division-clinching 34-10 win over the Rams last week at University of Phoenix Stadium. The victory gave Arizona its first playoff berth since 1998, a division championship for the first time since ’75 when they were in St. Louis and the NFC East, and assured the team of its first home playoff game since 1947 in Chicago.

This Sunday’s game is a match-up of first-place teams with 8-5 records. Minnesota has a one-game lead on Chicago in the NFC North (season split head-to-head) after winning last week against the Lions. The Vikings scored 10 fourth-quarter points to earn a 20-16 come-from-behind win at Detroit.

The two clubs also presently hold the #3 and #4 NFC playoff seeds and would host games on Wild Card Weekend if the postseason started today. Through 13 games, the Cards and Vikings have just one common opponent – Carolina. The Vikings won at home (20-10 in week 3) while Cards lost at Carolina (27-23) in week 8.

Arizona enters this week’s action as the NFL’s highest scoring offense (372 points) and ranks second in the league in passing, fourth overall. Minnesota has the league’s 6th ranked running game and #2 run defense.

Sunday’s game marks Minnesota’s first-ever appearance at University of Phoenix Stadium and the Vikings’ first visit to Arizona since the very memorable 2003 regular season finale. That day, the Cardinals knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs on the final play of the game when Josh McCown connected with Nate Poole to give Arizona the improbable 18-17 win.

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