For most of his career with the Vikings, Antoine Winfield has lined up on the right side of the defense and taken on whoever comes out to that side. If the Vikings played a team like the Colts, it would mean he was locked on Marvin Harrison all day. But for most teams, he would get a variety of different receivers to cover. Earlier this week, Winfield publicly stated he wanted to switch from the Vikings typical defensive policy and lock on to Donald Driver of the Packers on every play – making this potential mano-a-mano battle this week's Matchup to Watch.
Winfield has been underrated as a cornerback for several years. While one of the toughest players in the league despite being one of the smallest, Winfield earned his stripes as a run-defending corner that could also do well in coverage. But he never got the tag of being a shut-down corner or an interception guy. That has changed with the Vikings. He has become a much bigger playmaker and, as a result, teams have tended to attack Cedric Griffin instead of testing Winfield.
Where his request becomes important is that, with a young receiver corps that might be without Greg Jennings on Sunday, it is expected that Brett Favre is going to lock in on Driver. In two games last year, Driver killed the Vikings – catching 15 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown. It's no wonder Winfield wants to go one-on-one with him. Take away Driver and you force Favre to throw to receivers that are much less experienced and that Favre has less confidence in coming down with one of his bullet passes.
Nothing has changed this year for the Packers – with the exception of their record being 3-0. Favre is still locking in on Driver. In three games, he has caught 20 passes for 265 yards and two TDs. If he can keep up that pace, he will catch 107 passes for 1,413 yards and 11 touchdowns. Favre locks in on Driver at key times and Winfield could present a physical challenge that could make for an entertaining sidebar throughout the game.
Brad Childress hasn't said publicly whether or not he will grant Winfield's wish to shadow Driver wherever he goes, but if he gives in and lets one of his veteran leaders take it on his own shoulders to take away Brett Favre's favorite target, the day-long battle between Winfield and Driver will clearly be the Matchup to Watch Sunday.