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Vikings-Bills matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Dec. 01, 2010 @ 5:38 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here's another key matchup for Sunday's Vikings-Bills game in Minnesota:

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield vs. Bills WR Steve Johnson

Although the Vikings play a two-deep zone most of the time, they veered off of that approach somewhat with some new pressure looks from de facto defensive coordinator Fred Pagac, who has taken over some play-calling responsibilities for interim head coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings remain a zone-heavy outfit, though, which means Winfield won't be matching head up with Johnson on every play, per se.

But they will line up opposite each other quite a bit, as Winfield typically mans the left side of the defense and Johnson often lines up on the offense's right side. And when they do square off, it will be a good battle of strength vs. strength. Winfield is a compact, hard-hitting and quick-reacting corner who can redirect receivers' routes or fight through their blocks to make plays in the backfield. Johnson is a strong, sleek, young receiver who doesn't have world-beating speed but has emerged as the Bills' best playmaker this season.

Of course, Johnson now is most famous for his endzone drop Sunday and Twitter meltdown afterward, but neither that nor his four other drops in the game negates the fact he has had an outstanding breakout season in his third year. Winfield has had a very quiet season in contrast, and it has been because he is helping shut down one side of the field, rarely challenged by opponents who would much rather go after Asher Allen, Chris Cook or whoever else is lined up at right corner.

When going head to head, look for Winfield to have the edge. But because of the zone schemes and the fact that the Bills are likely to try to move Johnson around some, this is not going to be an every-down matchup.

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