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Vikings-Packers matchup of the day: Tuesday

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By Christian West

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

Packers TE Jermichael Finley vs. Vikings linebackers

Finley is one of the three best tight ends in football, and arguably the best. His combination of size and speed makes him very difficult to match up against. He can run away from linebackers and overpower safeties for jump balls.

The Vikings have faced three elite tight ends this season in Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow and Brandon Pettigrew and have had trouble covering them. Those three combined for 23 catches and 230 yards in the three games against the Vikings this year (an average of 7.6 catches and 76.6 per game).

Chad Greenway has the athleticism to be able to stay with the growing breed of athletic tight ends, and did a nice job of keeping Gates from explosive plays, but where teams have been exploiting the Vikings in the pass game is when they go to their cover-2 look.

E.J. Henderson as the middle linebacker is usually patrolling that area and doesn't have the lateral quickness necessary to consistently cover tight ends in the middle and down the seam of the cover-2. Pettigrew especially took advantage of the space in the middle, racking up a total of 11 catches for 112 yards.

The Packers like to use Finley on seam routes down the middle of the field and allowing him to use his height to go get the ball, whether from his natural tight end position or from the slot. If Henderson gets isolated in the middle of the field against Finley, it could be a long day.


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