Barr, Smith, Joseph all ruled out for Vikings defense

The Minnesota Vikings will be without four starters Thursday when they face an Arizona Cardinals offense that ranks first in total yards and scoring.

The Vikings announced safety Harrison Smith (hamstring), linebacker Anthony Barr (groin/hand), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) are all ruled out.

That is a significant amount of star power missing from a defense that enters Thursday's tilt ranked fourth in the NFL in points per game allowed (19.3). Last week with Joseph out and Barr and Smith missing most of the contest, the Vikings gave up 38 points and 433 total yards to the Seattle Seahawks.

Thursday they face an even more explosive offense.

Carson Palmer is an MVP candidate. Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and J.J. Nelson help make up deepest receiver unit in the NFL with explosive ability to find pay dirt on any snap. And rookie running back David Johnson is a load between the tackles and weapon in the passing game.

The Cardinals rank first in the NFL points per game (31.8), total yards per game (419.5), pass yards per play (8.49), third down conversion rate (46.3), first downs per game (24), 20-plus yard plays (65) and point differential (+150).

Facing a beat up Vikings team at home, Palmer and Co. could add significantly to those numbers.

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