Vikings-Redskins matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Dec. 23, 2011 @ 5:51 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Here's a key matchup for Saturday's Vikings-Redskins game in D.C.:

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Redskins front seven

Peterson returned to the lineup against the Saints last week after missing three consecutive games and was held in check — mostly by his own team, which gave him the ball only 10 times in the blowout loss. Peterson ran well; his 60-yard rushing total included a 38-yard run, and negative runs of minus-5 and minus-4 yards were not his fault.

You can bet the Vikings will not make the same mistake twice. They need to get him involved earlier in the game, both to set a physical tone and keep the Redskins' offense (which has looked better the past month) off the field. Peterson is often at his best in the first and fourth quarters, pounding on either an unsuspecting or a worn-down defense.

The Redskins have been the best NFC East defense lately, active in the front seven and opportunistic on the back end. Led by London Fletcher and three young, strong fellow linebackers, this is a solid tackling unit. The D-line can get moved laterally and its members occasionally will overshoot gaps, but going up against the Vikings' offensive line appears to be a favorable matchup.

The best individual battle will be C John Sullivan vs. Redskins NT Barry Cofield. Sullivan has improved his anchor strength in this breakout season, and Cofield is a quick penetrator with underrated toughness.