Football fans will be treated to a pair of excellent LT-DE matchups during tonight’s Vikings-Panthers game, which is being televised nationally by NBC on Sunday Night Football.
Vikings DE Jared Allen will face Panthers LT Travelle Wharton and Vikings LT will face Panthers DE Julius Peppers. Watch for both of these matchups to greatly influence the flow and outcome of tonight’s game.
Let’s take a brief look at both matchups…
Jared Allen vs. Travelle Wharton
The Vikings have the advantage – on paper at least – in this matchup because Allen and his great edge rush will go against a player who typically starts at LG. Wharton has been moved to LT to replace regular starter Jordan Gross, who was placed on injured reserve.
With that said, however, Carolina is not exactly throwing a stiff in to play LT – Wharton started all 16 games at LT in both the 2005 and 2007 seasons. He stands at 6-4, 312 pounds and he’ll have his hands full in trying to defend Allen tonight.
Allen, with 12.5 sacks so far this season, is 2.0 sacks away from tying his season total from last year and he’s 2.5 sacks away from climbing into the Vikings top 5 for most sacks in a single season; Carl Eller had 15.0 in 1969 and 1976.
Bryant McKinnie vs. Julius Peppers
This might actually be the best matchup of the entire night. McKinnie is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season and Peppers is a 4-time Pro Bowler himself.
Peppers has 8.5 sacks this season and 79.0 for his career, making him the Panthers all-time leader in that department. He has elite quickness and his size (6-7, 283 pounds) allows him the strength to overpower blockers as well.
McKinnie stands at 6-8, 335 pounds but also has the quickness to matchup with Peppers. Although it’s hard to say without looking at coach’s tape if any of the sacks were actually allowed by McKinnie, it’s interesting to note that Peppers had 0 sacks against the Vikings LT in 2005, 3.0 sacks against him in 2006 and 0 sacks in last year’s game.
Lastly, this matchup will ultimately be gauged not primarily on sacks allowed but also by how well the Vikings rush the ball. Carolina ranks 6th in the NFL against the pass, so expect the Vikings to remain committed to running the ball, even on the left side where Steve Hutchinson and McKinnie will be leading the way.
Tags: Jared Allen
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