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Senior NFL Columnist

Week 16 matchups to watch: Can Texans slow Adrian Peterson?

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Texans' fifth-ranked run defense: How do you slow down Adrian Peterson? It's tough. The Vikings do a nice job of keeping with the running game, even when it's not off to a fast start. They did that against the Rams last week. The Texans have Shaun Cody back in the middle, which helps. But it's all about J.J. Watt, the one-man wrecking crew. Can the Vikings get him blocked?

Lions WR Calvin Johnson vs. Falcons CB Asante Samuel: Samuel brings cocky swagger to the Falcons secondary. He is a gambler, but he gets away with it a lot. If he's on Johnson, he will be at a huge height disadvantage. But Samuel isn't one to back down from a challenge.

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth vs. Steelers OLB James Harrison: Harrison isn't close to being the same player he was a couple of years ago. He and Whitworth, a massive mauler, have had some great battles. Can Harrison get it going here? The Steelers need him to do so.

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Giants WR Victor Cruz vs. Ravens CB Corey Graham: Cruz has been doubled a lot this season, which has slowed him some. But if Graham plays him man-up this week, look for the Giants to go there a lot. Cruz has to have a big game. If Graham gets the better of him, the Ravens will win.

49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Seahawks LT Russell Okung: Smith might not have Justin Smith next to him, so he could be forced to do even more. Justin Smith really helps free up Aldon Smith for sacks. Okung is a good left tackle. It will be interesting to see how well Aldon plays without Justin.

49ers C Jonathan Goodwin vs. Seahawks DT Brandon Mebane: When they met the last time, Goodwin got the better of Mebane. Does it happen again? Goodwin's play has tailed off some since then, but if the 49ers are going to run against Seattle he has to handle Mebane.

Vikings DE Jared Allen vs. Texans LT Duane Brown: Brown is the best left tackle in the league. Allen is always a pass-rush handful. This should be a classic case of pass rusher vs. pass protector. Can Brown keep Matt Schaub clean?

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Ravens T Kelechi Osemele: Pierre-Paul has just 6½ sacks, which is a way lower total than expected. But he is getting pressure and he's playing the run well. Osemele has struggled at times as a rookie. But he has tools. This could be a big game for him if he can handle Pierre-Paul.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Saints CB Jabari Greer: Bryant has had a big second half to the season and will be a big part of what Tony Romo wants to do. Greer did a nice job last week against Tampa Bay with two picks. I expect to see him a bunch on Bryant.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. 49ers WR Michael Crabtree: Sherman is the NFL's best corner this season. But he gave up a few plays to Stevie Johnson last week. Crabtree doesn't have great speed, but he is physical and can run after the catch. They will get after each other.

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