After perhaps the most iconic walk off win in playoff history last week against the Saints, the Vikings head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line. Let’s see how these rosters compare.
Case Keenum versus Nick Foles. Going into this matchup, both the Vikings and the Eagles think they can take advantage of this matchup. Foles has been shaky since becoming the starter when Carson Wentz went down with injury, but did have a strong second half in the game against the Falcons last week. Keenum is coming off a game where he threw for over 300 yards and has his confidence riding high after the dramatic win last week.
Edge: Keenum. Foles has struggled when pressure has been sent at him, so expect Mike Zimmer to bring exotic blitz packages all game to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.
This matchup features two teams that like to use multiple running backs to match their personal. Minnesota features Latavius Murray to set the tone and run between the tackles and Jerick McKinnon to spread the defense out and make them play in space. The Eagles try to establish Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount and their physical styles of running to wear an opponent down.
Edge: Vikings. The Vikings have been finding creative ways to get Murray and McKinnon the ball, so look out for some new creative play calls in the red zone.
Wide Receiver is another matchup that will be interesting to watch. For the Vikings, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are coming off big games and demand attention on every single snap. The Eagles feature Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor, three receivers that offer unique advantages for an offense.
Edge: Vikings. Diggs and Thielen are a better combination than Jeffery and their second highest targeted receiver. However, Jeffery has always given the Vikings issues.
It was surprising to see how the Vikings used Kyle Rudolph last week in the red zone against the Saints. The corner route on first down and then the fade, jump ball route on third down were questionable play calls for his playing style. On the other side, Zach Ertz had a successful season and is the top option on the Eagles offense at all times.
Edge: Eagles. Ertz is as elite as they come, so the Vikings need to deviate a plan to try to stop Ertz from getting explosive plays.
Both the Vikings and Eagles feature very good offensive lines. But this is another instance where both teams think this is a matchup they can win. The Eagles right side of the offensive line is as elite as they come, with Pro Bowl and All-Pro representation there. However, the left side, specifically Halapoulivaati Vaitai, has really struggled this season. This is definitely who the Vikings will be trying to attack and bull rush his side. For the Vikings, Rashod Hill had a tough game last week. With the stout defensive line the Eagles also have, expect heavy blitz packages to be thrown his way.
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Edge: Eagles. Both lines are solid, but the Eagles line behind the home crowd get the slight advantage here.
Whatever team can get to the quarterback the most in this matchup has a chance to really swing the game in their favor. The Vikings are lead by Everson Griffin and then Linval Joseph in the trenches, who are coming off good games last week. The Eagles defensive line features some absolute monsters in Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Graham. The Vikings offensive line is going to have to be ready for the best defensive front they have seen all season.
Edge: Eagles. The Vikings defensive line is stout, but the Eagles have quite possibly the best in the league. The crowd noise will help out this Eagles front four.
Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are a big part of this matchup due to the fact they will both see a lot of time covering Ertz. Ertz has lived off creating mismatches on tight ends, but the Vikings feature some of the most athletic linebackers in the league.
Edge: Vikings. Barr and Kendricks are going to have to be at their best and make plays to limit any explosive run-pass options from Foles to Ertz.
Coming off a highly watched and talked about matchup between Xavier Rhodes and Michael Thomas, Rhodes now draws the matchup of Jeffrey. Jeffery has been a player that has gotten the best of Rhodes before, but Rhodes knows how he plays and the physical manor he brings to the table. Other matchups for this game seems to be Trae Waynes on Torrey Smith, another matchup of speed on speed. Terence Newman and Mackensie Alexander will match up with Agholor. On the Eagles, expect Malcolm Jenkins to be all around the field and try to create great mismatches the way Harrison Smith does for the Vikings.
Edge: Vikings. Look for the Vikings to heavily attack Jalen Mills, the weakest link of the Eagles secondary.
Kai Forbath kicking a 53-yard field goal to put the Vikings ahead last week with about 90 seconds left brought a lot of confidence back into Viking fans. The treacherous kicking conditions of Philadelphia make this an interesting matchup for Forbath and Jake Elliott.
Edge: Vikings. Forbath is riding all the confidence from the 53-yard field goal last week and a confident kicker is huge in a playoff run.
This has the making of a grind-it-out, low-scoring game. If the Vikings can jump out to an early lead like they did last week, look for the running game to start to chew up the clock again. Both teams feature some of the best defenses in the league, but Keenum will make enough winning throws to send the Vikings to the Super Bowl. A late Forbath field goal is the difference here.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Eagles 17
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