Vikings-Bengals game plan

The Vikings are becoming more of a passing team with Brett Favre, but they'd like to get Adrian Peterson back to his productive ways. Get the matchups to watch in this intriguing Sunday battle of division leaders.

VIKINGS

Coming off a game in which Adrian Peterson gained only 19 yards on 13 carries versus Arizona, the Pro Bowl running back will get another big test this Sunday against Cincinnati.

The Bengals are ranked second in the league in run defense, surrendering only 81.8 yards per game. It should be to the Vikings' advantage that defensive tackle Domata Peko will miss this game after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

The Vikings will look to be far more balanced in this game after Brett Favre attempted 45 passes and Minnesota had only 20 running plays en route to an embarrassing 30-17 loss to Arizona in which coach Brad Childress was forced to throw the ball far more than he probably wanted.

The interesting thing is the Vikings are becoming more of a passing team than they likely ever planned, even with Favre, and their real bread-and-butter is being able to run the ball. Minnesota is ninth in the league in passing and 11th in rushing.

This is an interesting game for the Vikings defense because the Bengals have become a very good running team behind Cedric Benson. Cincinnati is sixth in the league in rushing, but the Vikings are third at shutting it down so this should be a strength-vs.-strength situation.

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner had plenty of success passing the ball against the Vikings but Arizona has far more ability to throw multiple-receiver looks on the field than the Bengals do.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin, who leads the team with three interceptions, vs. Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco, who leads Cincinnati with 62 receptions for 910 yards and six touchdowns.
Much of the Bengals' success has come in running the ball, but quarterback Carson Palmer might want to try to stretch the field by looking for Ochocinco at times. He likely will be matched up on occasion against Griffin and could have some opportunities against whoever starts at left corner for the Vikings. Veteran Antoine Winfield has missed the past six games because of a foot injury and it remains unclear when he will be back (although there are once again indications this could be the week). Griffin had an outstanding game two weeks ago against Chicago but struggled last Sunday versus Arizona.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who is third in the NFL with 1,103 yards rushing, vs. Bengals MLB Dhani Jones, who leads Cincinnati with 80 tackles this season. Peterson, who did not practice Wednesday because of foot and ankle issues, had the second-worst rushing game of his career last Sunday, gaining only 19 yards on 13 carries but that isn't necessarily good news for the Bengals. Cincinnati has been very strong against the run, but with defensive tackle Domata Peko out because of an injury, Jones and the other linebackers are going to have to play a big role in slowing Peterson if that success is going to continue.

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen. Whitworth has faced a long line of top pass rushers this season, starting with Denver's Elvis Dumervil and continuing with Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Pittsburgh's James Harrison. The Vikings lead the league in sacks and Allen has 12.5. The Bengals have allowed only 22, but eight have come in the last three games. Allen has a quick first step and Whitworth is going to have to keep his balance to push him away from the pocket.

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