Vikings-packers matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Oct. 22, 2011 @ 4:31 p.m.
Posted By Christian West

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

Packers OLB Clay Matthews vs. Vikings ORT Phil Loadholt

Loadholt looks like he will get the start on Sunday despite suffering a knee injury in the loss last week to the Bears. His reward for gutting through the injury is trying to block Matthews for 60 minutes on Sunday.

While it appears that Matthews is having a down season so far with only two sacks, a deeper look at the numbers shows something different. According to statistics on Pro Football Focus, Matthews has 30 pressures, which combines sacks, QB hits and QB hurries. While the sack numbers aren't as gaudy, he's still been a terror to opposing tackles and quarterbacks.

Loadholt has struggled with consistency this season, having great plays and games only to follow them up with poor efforts. He's been better in the run game but wildly inconsistent in pass protection.

With Christian Ponder now taking the reigns at QB, Loadholt takes on increased importance to keep the prized first-round pick upright. Loadholt has struggled with speed rushes, as his footwork varies play to play. Dealing with a technician of a pass-rusher in Matthews, who can use a variety moves to get to the quarterback, will provide a difficult assignment.

The talent for is there for Loadholt to be a very good right tackle, but he needs to find consistency to reach it. Against Matthews this week, there isn't a lot of room for error.