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Vikings-Cardinals matchup of the day: Friday

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By Christian West

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

Vikings tight ends vs. Cardinals linebackers

TEs Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph have been the most dependable options in the passing game for QB Donovan McNabb thus far this season. Shiancoe has served as the security blanket underneath and Rudolph is more an explosive player down the seams and sidelines.

They have a good matchup this week against a Cardinals linebackers corps that isn't very strong in coverage. The job of the outside linebackers in their 3-4 scheme is primarily to rush the passer. ILBs Paris Lenon, Stewart Bradley and Daryl Washington don't have elite athleticism to match up in space with Shiancoe and Rudolph.

Using play-action is a good way to get the linebackers out of position, having them focus on the Vikings' greatest weapon, RB Adrian Peterson, then sneaking the tight ends behind them. Also using levels concepts against zone coverage, where Shiancoe would work in front of the linebackers while Rudolph attacks behind them toward the safeties, would force Arizona to have to choose who to defend.

The Cardinals are allowing tight ends 14.3 yards per reception this season, fifth worst in the league. With Bernard Berrian struggling to find a connection deep with McNabb, the Vikings should look to their tight ends for explosive plays in the passing game.

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