Vikings-Saints matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Dec. 17, 2011 @ 2:03 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Here's another key matchup for Sunday's Vikings-Saints game in Minnesota:

Vikings CB Marcus Sherels vs. Saints WR Lance Moore

The Saints have a number of passing weapons at their disposal. One highly underrated one is Moore, who has been a secret weapon who shockingly flies below the radar despite his six touchdowns this season, his eight a year ago and his 10 scores in 2008. Only an injury-plagued 2009 kept that scoring spree from being greater, and he made an impact on the team's Super Bowl run that season.

Moore is quick and deceptive, but he also has underrated route-running skills. He sets up defenders well and can shake tight coverage in close quarters. Moore's effectiveness in the red zone also has been a function of TE Jimmy Graham's breakout and the addition of RB Darren Sproles. Defenses fear the underneath (with Sproles) and the fade (with Graham), often leaving the middle barren for Moore vs. single coverage.

The Vikings have shaken up their secondary. Injuries and ineffectiveness have rendered this unit, which has zero interceptions the past eight games, rather mute. But there has been a bit of a bright spot in recent weeks with nickel CB Marcus Sherels, a rookie who has started to show something in the slot. He competes and doesn't back down from tough matchups.

The team's go-to coverage the past several years under Leslie Frazier, the cover-2 and its offshoots, has been largely ineffective with a number of blown coverages of late. That has forced the team to pressure a little more, play man-under and leave their DBs head up. On Sunday, they'll face good receivers, but don't be shocked if the feisty Sherels holds his own vs. Moore.