Vikings-Lions matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Sept. 22, 2011 @ 11:48 a.m.
Posted By Christian West

Here's another key matchup to watch in Sunday's game against the Lions.

Lions wide receivers vs. Vikings secondary

The Lions' passing game has been excellent through two games, racking up 627 yards and seven touchdowns, with Matthew Stafford collecting all but 28 yards of that. A big reason for his success is the excellent group of receivers he is throwing to — Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and rookie Titus Young.

It's a group that complements each other, with Johnson using his size and strength to create mismatches in the red zone as a true No. 1 receiver, Burleson working well in the short-to-intermediate areas and Young stretching the field vertically.

It's a tough assignment for a Vikings secondary that's a little banged up with CB Chris Cook still trying to recover from a groin injury. Though the team has its foundation rooted in the Tampa-2 zone, they rely on their corners to be very physical at the line to disrupt timing and give the defensive ends, particularly Jared Allen, time to create pressure on the quarterback. A bright spot this season has been the play of RCB Cedric Griffin, who looks healthy and has been very physical in the two games this season.

One concern for the Vikings should be LCB Antoine Winfield's missed tackles this season. He has missed far more than usual and that could be a sign that he isn't fully healthy or beginning to lose a step at age 34. Minnesota needs the 5-foot-9 Winfield to be aggressive, especially when he's lined up against Johnson in the red zone. He can't allow the 6-foot-5 Johnson to get the body position that makes him so tough in the air, given the disparity in height between the two.