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Vikings-Lions matchup of the day: Saturday

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By Christian West

Here's a key matchup to watch in Sunday's Vikings-Lions game.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen vs. Lions left tackle Jeff Backus

The Lions offense has been explosive in the first two weeks of the season, with Matthew Stafford slinging the ball all over the field to a talented group of pass-catchers. Perhaps the best part of the Lions quick start is the way they have protected the fragile Stafford, not allowing a sack so far.

However, the much-maligned Jeff Backus, though he didn't give up a sack, had difficulties dealing with Chiefs rusher Tamba Hali last week, allowing Stafford to get hit on multiple occasions when throwing. His problems don't get any easier as Jared Allen will be lining up against him Sunday.

Allen, who had a down season in 2010, is off to a good start this season with 1½ sacks and two passes batted down. Allen has had good success against the Lions dating back to 2008, raking up 4½ sacks over the past three seasons.

Backus has difficulty blocking speed rushers and Allen is one of the best in the league. The Lions should attempt to send help in the form of backs and tight ends towards Allen's side, but with the return of Kevin Williams to the lineup, that could be more difficult to do.

If Allen can consistently beat Backus and wreak havoc for Stafford in the backfield, disrupting the timing of the Lions passing game, the Vikings chances of slowing Detroit's explosive offense increase significantly.


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