Here's a key matchup heading into Sunday's Vikings-Cardinals game in Minnesota:
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Cardinals front seven
The Cardinals' run defense allowed Buccaneers RB LaGarrette Blount to rush 22 times for 120 yards and two TDs on Sunday (they did force a big fumble, though) and have allowed some gaudy rushing totals to other teams this season: 221 yards on 45 carries to the Falcons in Week Two, 180 yards on 38 rushes in Week Four to the Chargers and 144 yards rushing on 36 carries to the Seahawks in Week Seven.
They'll have a serious challenge with Peterson, who is having another fantastic season. He has been the Vikings' MVP, and though he hasn't broken a ton of long runs, he has consistently churned out the punishing five-, six- and seven-yarders that break a defense's back by the fourth quarter. Peterson is running the Vikings' inside and outside zone series expertly, too, which allow him to use his vision, one-cut ability and burst through the hole.
Peterson also has been a factor in the passing game, more than in years past. He has caught the ball more effectively and often, and he isn't a liability in pass protection as was once the case. With Randy Moss gone, the Cardinals have to find a way to bring SS Adrian Wilson (who is having a good season on a bad defense) up in the box and into Peterson's face; the over-the-top stuff in the passing game is not as big a concern now. But the team that wins the individual matchups in the trenches clearly will have a leg up in this battle.