Spikes, Leber Remain Questions

The Vikings and Bills both spent much of the week hoping that, when Sunday rolled around, they would have their linebacker corps healthy. As game time approaches, neither are yet positive.

The Vikings and Bills each see today's matchup as a must win. For the Vikings, it would get them back on track after last week's loss to the Bears and give the team a chance to be 4-1 heading into their bye week. For the Bills, a win will even their mark at 2-2 and allow them to avoid a second home loss in the early portion of the season and a 1-3 hole.

Of all the key matchups, perhaps the most important involved linebackers who might or might not play. The Vikings have been crossing their fingers that Ben Leber, who missed most of this week's practices, can return and be a disruptive factor. Leber has been part of a defense that has shown a lot of improvement, especially in run defense, and, while the team has prepared to move on without him, after practicing Friday, he believes he's good to go if needed.

On the flip side, the Bills have been without linebacker Takeo Spikes and it has showed. In a loss to the Patriots earlier this year, the Bills allowed 187 rushing yards. Even in a win two weeks ago against the Dolphins, the Bills still surrended 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. Spikes hasn't played a down yet with a hamstring pull and, unlike Leber, wasn't able to practice Friday and remains a big question mark.

Of the many matchups that will take place on and off the field today, perhaps the most important one could end up being which of the talented linebackers doesn't play -- giving the other team what Brad Childress calls a competitive advantage. If Leber can go and Spikes can't, it could be enough to tip the game in favor of the Vikings.

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