For those who tune into the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings matchup on Sunday afternoon they will get treated to an individual battle between two of the most athletic, explosive players in the NFL -- Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Cards head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton have shown they are not afraid to have Peterson follow around the opposing team's best WR. In the Rams game the former LSU star chased around Danny Amendola even though he was used in the slot and against the Bills he mainly shadowed top wideout Stevie Johnson.
Dealing with Harvin is an entire different animal. This past week against the Redskins he caught 11 balls and on those catches he lined up in eight different spots. Minnesota also uses Harvin on reverses and even lines him up as a running back. Two weeks ago he had a rushing touchdown in the red zone just like a normal running back out of the backfield.
The former Gator has hauled in 49 receptions for 540 yards. Out of those 540 yards, 418 of them have come after the catch according Pro Football Focus (stats from ProFootballFocus.com will be used throughout).
Harvin has caught 81% of the passes that have been thrown in his direction (61 targets). The reason for the high percentage is Harvin does pretty much all of his work from behind the line of scrimmage to 19 yards. He has caught one ball that has traveled 20 yards in the air or more and has only been targeted in that area three times.
Will Peterson be able to slow the dynamic Harvin down?
So far this season Peterson has not allowed a wide receiver he has matched up with to total more than 46 yards. He has been targeted 26 times and allowed 10 catches for 172 yards. The receivers he has mainly been matched up with were Stevie Johnson, Danny Amendola, Brian Hartline, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Lloyd and Sidney Rice. Some nice names there, but nothing like what he is going to deal with on Sunday.
Peterson missed three tackles last week against the Bills, which if he does against Harvin, he will be watching him dance towards the end zone.
It doesn't get much better than this. As Terrell Owens once said "get your popcorn ready."