Vikings-Lions matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Dec. 07, 2011 @ 2:35 p.m.
Posted By Christian West

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

Vikings DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison vs. Lions OTs Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus

In the first matchup between these two teams in Week Three, Allen and Robison combined for five sacks, consistently winning their one-on-one matchups with the Lions' offensive tackles. Robison and Allen both did a tremendous job of using the loud Metrodome crowd to beat Backus and Cherilus off the ball, who always seemed to be a fraction late coming out of their stances.

Their pressure was a big reason why the Lions' offense sputtered early in the game en route to a 20-point halftime deficit. However, when Detroit got things going in the second half, it was because the Lions started to utilize a quick passing game, helping the tackles because of a shorter protection window.

It will be interesting to watch how Allen and Robison gain an advantage over Backus and Cherilus without the benefit of the crowd behind them. Also, Robison has struggled since the first matchup, notching only three sacks in the last nine games. However, the Lions' O-line also has struggled, allowing QB Matthew Stafford to be sacked two or more times in six out of the last seven games.

If the Vikings want to pull the upset, Allen and Robison will need to bring constant pressure on Stafford and force him to make errant throws that lead to interceptions, which has been Stafford's bugaboo, with 10 picks in the past four games.