Game Plan and Storylines for Eagles-Vikings

Vikings LB Eric Kendricks (Left) and Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks (Right) face off for 2nd time and first time in the Playoffs for a chance to play in Super Bowl 52. Image Courtesy: 12up.com

The Teams: Minnesota Vikings (-3) – Philadelphia Eagles

The Time: Sunday, January 21st, 2018, 6:40 PM

The Place: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

The Stakes: A chance to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 52.

The Storylines

  • Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t bet against a home dog?”  Well, the #1 Seed Philadelphia Eagles are 3 point “underdogs” again at home versus the Vikings for the 2nd straight week in the playoffs.
    • The Eagles defeated the high powered offense of the Atlanta Falcons, who were 3 point favorites, 15-10 last Saturday.
  • The Vikings are coming off of a “Minnesota Miracle,” as they defeated the Saints last Sunday 29-24 on an improbable touchdown pass from QB Case Keenum to WR Stefon Diggs.
    • Teams usually do not fare well the next week after such an emotionally draining walk-off win.
  • 3 of the 4 active Quarter Backs played for former Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
    • Eagles QB Nick Foles started for Fisher in 2015.
    • Vikings starting QB Case Keenum started for Fisher in 2016.
    • Vikings backup and former Eagles QB Sam Bradford played under Fisher in 2012 and ’13.
      • Also, IF Vikings starter Case Keenum were to come out of the game and Bradford came in the Linc would get even crazier than it already would be.
        • Bradford last season with Minnesota came into Philadelphia 5-0 and the Eagles defense had a field day on him in a 21-10 victory.
  • Excellent Linebackers and brothers Mychal (Eagles) and Eric (Vikings) Kendricks will be facing off against each other for the chance to play in Super Bowl 52.
    • Mychal is 1-0 against his brother Eric, as the Eagles defeated the Vikings last season at home 21-10.
  • In 2004, the Eagles defeated both the Vikings and the Falcons to earn a spot in Super Bowl 39 against the New England Patriots.
    • With a win on Sunday against the Vikings on Sunday the Eagles, the Eagles would conquer the same feat they faced back in 2004 to make it to the Super Bowl.

Eagles-Vikings Playoff History

  • All-time the Eagles are 3-0 against the Vikings in Postseason Play. (Fingers crossed for 4-0)
    • 2008: The Eagles defeated the Vikings 26-14 in Minnesota.
    • 2004: The Eagles defeated the Vikings 27-14 at home.
    • 1980: The Eagles defeated the Vikings 31-16 at home.

The Vikings

Best Defense in Football

  • Minnesota has given up the fewest points per game (15.8) and the fewest yards per game (275.9).
    • The Vikings have 3 Defensive Pro Bowlers (1 from each level of the Defense).
    • Defensive End Everson Griffin (31 Solo Tkl, 13 Sacks, 3 Forced Fumbles)
    • Strongside Linebacker Anthony Barr (52 Solo Tkl, 1 Sack)
    • Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (44 Solo Tkl, 2 INT)
  • Other notable Pro Bowl-level players on the defense to watch out for tomorrow are:
    • Defensive Tackle Linval Jospeh (3.5 Sacks)
    • Middle Linebacker Eric Kendricks (113 combined tackles, 67 solo, 1 INT, 1 Sack)
    • Vikings Defensive Secondary
      • Previously Mentioned CB Xavier Rhodes
      • Cornerback Trae Waynes (57 Solo Tackles, 2 INT, 1 Sack)
      • Free Safety Harrison Smith (61 Solo Tkl, 5 INT, 1.5 Sack)
      • Strong Safety Andrew Sendejo (54 Solo Tkl, 2 INT) (Questionable for game)

Vikings Offense

  • The Minnesota Defense is their strongest phase, but they do have a pretty skilled offense as well.
    • QB Case Keenum came in relief to starter Sam Bradford after injuries arose.
      • Keenum is a journeyman QB who has found success due to a tenacious defense and skill receivers.
    • Minnesota’s Offensive Line is inferior to the Eagles lines and can get QB Case Keenum into trouble.
    • The Vikings running game took a bit of a hit after losing 2nd Round Rookie Running back Dalvin Cook, but the combination of veterans Latavius Murray and Jerrick Mckinnon have gotten the job done.
    • The Vikings have 3 potential game changers in Wide Receiver’s Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as well as Tight End Kyle Rudolph.

Special Teams

  • Kicker Kai Forbath has a season long of kick of 53 yards and was 32/38 (84%) on the season.
  • Punter Ryan Quigley did not have one punt go into the end zone for a touchback.
  • Kick/Punt Returner Marcus Sherels has taken 5 kickoff returns to the house for TD’s in his career.

Eagles Gameplan

  • The Eagles should execute a similar game plan as to the one they executed against the Falcons last week but more emphasis this week will be on the Eagles offense.
    • Do whatever you have to to protect Nick Foles.
      • Vikings Pro Bowl DE Everson Griffin is one of the leagues best and 2nd year Eagles LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai will need help.
        • My advice, have Tight Ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek chip off Everson on his way to Foles.  The rest of the line should be fine but have to keep an eye on Minnesota’s Line backers.
    • Run the ball, control time of possession.
      • Eagles Running Backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount need to help QB Nick Foles control the time of possession and open up the pass.
    • Get Alshon Jeffery the ball.
      • Former Bears and current Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery has had success and knows Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes well and has had success against him.
    • Just like Falcons WR Julio Jones last week, contain the Vikings Play-Makers.
      • WR Adam Thielen just like Jones will get his, he needs to be contained.
        • The issue here is Diggs is more of a big play threat and as a friend once told me regarding Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, “You can’t teach 6’6.” – Kevin Kolodziej

My Prediction

  • The Eagles Offense on the confidence of QB Nick Foles finds their way into the endzone 3 times on the Vikings defense and contains their offense enough to win a nail-biter 21-17.
About Marc Tomasini 14 Articles
Philadelphia Eagles Beat Writer for Wildfire Sports (@_WildfireSports) and Co-Host/Show Writer/Producer of The Small Ball Lineup Podcast (@SmallBallLineup) on Wildfire Radio (@Wildfire_radio). Follow Marc on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marc.tomasini and Twitter/Instagram @PhillySportsSrc!

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