Winfield Big Question

The Vikings have one of the worst pass defenses in the league and have for the last decade. But today, they could be without their strongest cornerback as Antoine Winfield is a good bet to be limited or out completely today.

The Vikings have the worst-rated pass defense in the league. That isn't anything new – the team has been rated 26th or less in pass defense in seven of the last nine years. But, as the Chargers invade the Metrodome today, the Vikings may have to go without its top cornerback.

Antoine Winfield remains a question mark heading into today's game with a hamstring injury and might be one of the team's deactivations later this morning. If that is the case, the Vikings would be starting Cedric Griffin, a second-year player making his 15th career start, and Marcus McCauley, a rookie making his first start.

While the Chargers offense is propelled by running back LaDainian Tomlinson, without Winfield a porous Vikings pass defense could be even worse. McCauley has played much better than his draft status last April would have indicated, but Winfield's contribution in both pass and run game will be sorely missed if his sore hammie isn't good to go.

The Vikings will announce their inactive players at about 10:30 CST – about 90 minutes prior to game time.

SUNDAY NOTES
* The Vikings have allowed 144 first downs this season, including 107 passing and just 29 rushing first downs.
* The Vikings offense has 117 first downs – 53 passing, 53 rushing and 11 by penalty.
* For two teams known for running the ball, both the Vikings and Chargers are on the short end of the time of possession battle. The Vikings are allowing opponents to control the clock for nearly 3½ minutes more per game.
* The Vikings are completing just 49.5 percent of their passes, while allowing opponents to complete 67.4 percent of their attempts.
* After having no sacks in 16 games last year, Kenechi Udeze leads the Vikings with four sacks this season.
* The Vikings are averaging 5.2 yards a rush as a team, while allowing must 2.9 yards a carry. The longest run against the Vikings this season has been just 24 yards.
* Vikings opponents have made 14 of 17 field goal attempts this season, while the Chargers have attempted just eight field goals in seven games.
* The Chargers haven't been a nail-biting game all season. Of their seven games, none have been decided by less than seven points and six of the seven have been by double digits.
* Over the last three games, San Diego has outscored its opponents 104-27.
* San Diego has outscored its opponents 59-17 in the first quarter of games and 42-17 in the third quarter.
* Seven different Chargers have caught touchdown passes this season.
* The Vikings are ranked 23rd on offense (2nd rushing, 30th passing) and 27th on defense (3rd rushing, 32nd passing). The Chargers are 19th on offense (12th rushing, 22nd passing) and 18th on defense (7th rushing, 27th passing).
* The Vikings defense has the best average-per-rush numbers (2.9 yards a carry) in the league. * The Vikings offense is second in yards per carry, while the Chargers are fourth.
* Both the Chargers and Vikings have been opportunistic on defense. The Chargers are second in the league with 19 takeaways, while the Vikings are tied for fifth with 16. The Chargers are third in the giveaway/takeaway ratio at +8, while the Vikings are sixth at +6.
* How dominant are the Patriots this year? Through eight games, they have 39 trips to the red zone and have 27 touchdowns and nine field goals. By contrast, the Chargers have 21 red zone trips (13 TDs, 3 field goals) and the Vikings still have league-worst nine trips to the red zone (4 TDs, 5 field goals).
* Although only one other team in the league has less than 16 trips in the red zone, the Vikings are the only team in the league that has scored points on every red zone appearance.
* The Vikings are the only team in the NFL that have allowed more than 100 first downs passing (107).
* The Vikings offense is converting on just 30.9 percent of its third-down chance. Only the 49ers (30.6) and the Lions (29.6) are worse.
* The Vikings have allowed three of the top 16 yardage days for opposing quarterbacks in the league this season.
* Between the Vikings and Chargers, only one player has rushed for 100 yards against either team – Larry Johnson vs. the Chargers.
* The Vikings are the only team without a quarterback that has thrown 100 passes. Tom Brady comes into action today with 198 completions – two more than the Vikings has pass attempts.
* Philip Rivers has been a solid passer, but is among the worst in the league this season on third-down passing and on fourth-quarter passing.


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