Key Player Match-Ups: Vikings
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2005-01-01
Category: Washington Redskins News
With the final game of the season on the horizon for the Washington Redskins, the time has come to evaluate talent and see how much heart these players have. The 8-7 Minnesota Vikings actually need to win this game, so they will be bringing everything they have. The vaunted Redskins defense suffered several more injuries last week, and it is an extremely depleted lineup that will be faced with the task of shutting down the number two offense in football. Here are some of the key player match-ups:

Randy Moss vs Shawn Springs

What would any Vikings match-up be without considering the wide receiver extraordinaire, Randy Moss. Moss is being 'nursed' back to good health with slow incorporation back into the Vikings offense, but his presence alone is always dangerous. Though his snaps have been limited of late, mike Tice and the Vikes will be looking to moss to lead them to a needed victory on Sunday.

Most of the onus of shutting down Moss will fall to Shawn Springs. While Gregg Williams typically has cornerbacks play a side as opposed to lineup against a player, it's fairly safe to assume that with Fred Smoot not playing, the Redskins defense will try to play a few more head-to-head match-ups than perhaps they normally would. Springs is coming off of a serious concussion and he sat out practice much of the week because of a foot injury. Those are things working against him, but he is also going to cap off his best season since he made the Pro Bowl. He has 'over-achieved' all year long and been a vital cog in the staunch Washington Redskins defense. He will be again on Sunday.

And it still won't matter. Randy Moss is Randy Moss and regardless of what Williams, Springs, or anyone else does... he's going to get his touches and he's going to hurt you. The only recourse is to accept that it will happen, and limit it as much as possible. While Moss may not grab 10 receptions this week, he will still likely get his 100 yards and it is almost a certainty that he will score.

Advantage: Moss

Laveranues Coles vs. Antione Winfield

There was a lot of talk in Washington this week about the Redskins receiving corps -- namely it's lack of production. As with any 5-10 team, the organization will be taking a long evaluatory look at the entire team on Sunday to help decide which players are to be part of the future.

Laveranues Coles has had a good season. With over 80 receptions and nearly 1000 yards (87, 913), it would be remiss to not at least acknowledge that while these numbers aren't gaudy, they aren't shabby either. He is the first Redskin to log 80+ catches in consecutive seasons since Art Monk did it back in 1984-85. But Coles continues to be bothered by a well-publicized toe injury, and yet, he is still the Redskins' best receiver game in and game out. But has he met expectations?

This week Coles will have one of his better 'match-ups' of the season when he faces Antoine Winfield. Winfield is a worthy adversary, but he is coming into the game at less than one hundred percent. In fact, he was sidelined all week from practice with a flu-like illness. When the Vikings signed Winfield this offseason, they were looking to shore up a problematic secondary. While Winfield has played well at times, the Minnesota defense is still their achilles heel.

Look for Coles to gain meaningful yards on Sunday. Winfield has great pace and can definitelt stay with Coles on the long stuff, but he lacks the finesse to effectively stop Coles down low. Expect 7-8 catches from Coles and all of the 7-12 yard variety, giving him about 100 yards on the day. You can also expect one of Patrick Ramsey's TD tosses to be to Coles in this definitive last stand for the Redskins.

Advantage: Coles

-- BossHog
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