Vikings-Raiders matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Nov. 16, 2011 @ 2:05 p.m.
Posted By Christian West

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

Vikings secondary vs. Raiders wide receivers

The Raiders receiving corps is built on the philosophy of the late Al Davis: speed, speed and then a little more speed.

Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey all have blazing speed, and use it to get down the field and make explosive plays in the passing game. However, Ford's status (foot) for Sunday's game is in doubt.

Even if Ford cannot play, the Raiders have the weapons on the outside to score points in the passing game. Moore has emerged as the best of the bunch with his ability to win jump-balls and with more precise route running.

It will be a challenge for the Vikings' corners to cover these speedsters, especially with the loss of Antoine Winfield for the season with a broken clavicle.

The Vikings have had to play a lot of soft zones with Winfield and Chris Cook, their best cover corner, out. Asher Allen and Cedric Griffin don't have the man-cover skills to be consistently left one-on-one against receivers. As a result, quarterbacks have gotten easily identifiable two-deep looks and picked apart the secondary.

For the Vikings to be successful Sunday, they cannot allow the Raiders' receivers to beat them deep. Safeties Jamarca Sanford and Husain Abdullah have to be disciplined in the cover-2 and maintain their deep responsibilities and not allow the Raiders to get the big plays in the passing game that have been key to their offense.

Carson Palmer has struggled with interceptions in his brief Raiders career and Minnesota's best chance of stopping the passing game is preventing the big plays and trying to force mistakes by jumping short routes in its zones.