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Vikings-Chargers matchup of the day: Saturday

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Sept. 10, 2011 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Here's a key matchup to consider in Sunday's Vikings-Chargers game:

Vikings SLB Chad Greenway vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates

The Vikings have one of the better strong-side linebackers in the game in Chad Greenway, which was reflected in the contract extension he recently received. He is coming off a season in which he averaged nine tackles per game for a career-high 144 and was one of the more consistent defenders on the team during a tough season.

One of the holes in his game, however, is in coverage, where he sometimes allows tight ends and backs to get too much space. Greenway is athletic and instinctive when the Vikings play zone, which they have often done, and he can move well laterally. But when matched up with elite pass receivers, Greenway often will give up a high percentage of passes.

Gates is perhaps the best receiving tight end in the game. He runs routes like a big receiver, has a bigger route tree than most players at his position and uses his body extremely well to shield away defenders. Sitting down in zones or breaking off man coverage, Gates is nearly uncoverable in a one-on-one situation, so there will be times that SS Jamarca Sanford will give Greenway some assistance. The problem, of course, is that the Chargers have a diverse passing game, and favoring coverage to one player will open things up for the other weapons. This is a very tough chore: trying to stop Gates and not let others get single coverage, as well.

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