In their playoff history the Eagles have faced 14 different NFC teams — for some odd reason they have never played Seattle — and have lost to 12 of them.
They beat the Detroit Lions in their only meeting in the 1995 wild-card game and they have beaten the Minnesota Vikings all three times they have met in the postseason, the most recent in 2008 at Minnesota.
That history lesson won’t mean much when the Eagles host the Vikings, Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, but it is kind of interesting. What will have meaning is how the team’s match-up against each other.
Here’s an-depth look at the NFC North champion Vikings, with the help of a veteran personnel expert for another NFC team.
Soon-to-be Giants head coach Pat Shurmur runs the Vikings offense and uses a lot of the West Coast fundamentals he learned working under Andy Reid, with the Eagles.
“He’s not a died-in-the-wool West Coast guy,’’ the personnel man said. “He’ll mix it up. He uses a lot of different sets and personnel groups, but the West Coast tendency is there.’’
Quarterback Case Kennum (98.3 QB rating, 22 TD, 7 Ints, 67.6 percent completion ratio) has been one of the more incredible stories of the 2017 season.
“He’s a gamer,’’ the personnel man said. “And Pat has done a great job getting him into that offense. He’s been a great fit. He’s better than (Sam) Bradford would have been, even if he was healthy.’’
Keenum’s top two receives are Adam Thielan (91 catches, 1,276 yards, 4 TDs) and last Sunday’s hero Stefan Diggs (64, 849, 8). Laquan Treadwell and Micheal Floyd are the backups.
“Thielen’s an interesting guy,’’ the personnel man said. “He’s pretty slick and pretty smooth. He will catch the ball and give you some run after the catch. He’s actually faster than you think. He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s not in the elite class of receivers but he’s getting close to it.’’
“Diggs isn’t a big guy but he is competitive at the ball and he can make plays. I think you saw that (last Sunday). Most importantly, for a guy his size he’ll go get the ball. He’s got good run after the catch, too.”
Tight end Kyle Rudolph (57, 532, 8) is another good fit in the offense, especially in the red zone.
“I like Rudolph,’’ the personnel man said. “There was a point you could make a case for him being a Pro Bowl tight end. Got good size, catches the ball, they look for him in the red zone. He’s a pretty good matchup issue for linebackers and/or safeties.”
Minnesota uses two running backs, after rookie Dalvin Cook went down for the season with a knee injury. Latavius Murray (842 yards, 3.9 avg., 8 TDs) and Jerick McKinnon (570, 3.8, 4) will both see time out of the backfield.
“It’s a pretty good combination,’’ the personnel man said. “Murray is the bigger man (230 pounds) and McKinnin has that extra kick. Murray can wear down a defense and they may try that, Sunday. We’ll see. But (the Eagles) better be careful with McKinnon. They’ll try to get him in space and create some match-up problems.’’
Up front the Vikings will go left to right with Riley Reiff (6-5 ½, 305, 5.20); Jeremiah Sirles (6-6 ½, 315, 5.38); Pat Elflein (6-2 ½, 303, 5.29); Joe Berger (6-5 ½, 305, 5.19); and Mike Remmers (6-5, 310, 5.23).
Elfein, the rookie from Ohio State has had a good season. The other four starters came to Minnesota, either through trade or free agency.
“They knew they had to rebuild the line and they did,’’ the personnel man said. “Reiff is the best, but he has a tough time with power guys. Elflein has good toughness. He’s better off when he’s helping one of the guards. He will struggle when you have a guy who’s got pretty good strength and can outleverage him and run him back to the quarterback. Remmers is a better run blocker, than pass protector. I think the Eagles will go after him.’’
Head coach Mike Zimmer runs his defense and call the plays. It’s a basic 4-3 alignment with double A-gap pressure. He’ll blitz at times, but it’s not his forte. The secondary will mix press-man coverage and “quarters’’.
Zimmer likes to get pressure from his front four and usually does. Everson Griffen, on the right end, had another good season with 13 sacks and left end Danielle Hunter had seven. Inside former Giant Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson clog the running lanes.
“Hunter uses those long arms (34 1/2 inches) and his speed to get past his guy. It’s going to be fun watching him and Lane Johnson battle all day. “Griffen brings a little bit of everything. He’s got a nastiness about him. He’s got good strength and pop. He can beat you with a power rush and he has the explosiveness to beat you off the edge. He’s an impact player.
“Joseph is a big-body, interior run defender. When he gets a pass rush it’s when he out-leverages guys. He can push back a guard or tackle. Johnson is a big rip move guy. He’ll come across the guard’s face and hit him with that rip and push up the field. Good power and upper strength.”
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, Mychal’s younger brother, led the Vikings in tackles with 113 and is in the middle of the defense. Anthony Barr and Ben Gedeon are outside.
“Barr has been played better this year. He’s playing faster and he’s healthier. Kendricks is another one, man, he can fly. I always thought he’d be a weak-side but he’s always played in the middle. He’s got good strength. Gedeon is just a steady run defender.’’
Minnesota’s secondary features two goods corners in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes and maybe the best safety in the game today, Harrison Smith. Andrew Sendejo is the fourth starter. Ageless Terrence Newman is the nickel.
“Xavier Rhodes can match up with most receivers. They’ll likely have him follow Alshon. Waynes is a smaller, thin-framed guy with good speed. He’ll take his shots, he’s more the gambler.
“Newman and Zimmer have had their relationship forever. At 39, he has lost a step. He knows his responsibilities and his limitations.
“Smith is just big and smart and has good range. He’ll take his shots on receivers. Sendejo is the blue-collar presence back there. Not a great athlete, but your on your own if you’re coming across the middle on him.
Vikings Special Teams
Kai Forbath (32-for-38 FGs, 34-39 PATs) is the kicker. One-time North Myrtle Beach high star Ryan Quigley (42.2 gross, 39.2 net) is the punter. Marcus Sherels (24.6 kickoffs, 9.5 punts) is the returnman.
Forbath’s five missed extra points are troubling, especially in a game where points can be at a premium.
Quigley placed 29 of his 71 punts inside the 20 and saw another 33 fair caught. That’s pretty good.
Sherels is decent, as are the Vikings’ cover units.