Game Preview – at MIN

Posted: December 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 54 Comments »

The Eagles head to Minnesota for Sunday’s game. The Vikings made the playoffs last year, but have fallen on hard times in 2013. They’re just 3-9-1. What happened?

Looks like there are 2 big factors. First, QB instability. Last year Christian Ponder started all 16 games and played reasonably well. This season the Vikings have used Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman as starters. None of them has played well.

Secondly, close games have been a problem. Last year the Vikings were 5-1 in games decided by a TD or less. This year they are 3-4-1. The problem with running the ball and trying to get by with a mediocre QB is that you don’t leave yourself with much room for error. This year’s team isn’t able to limit mistakes and overcome the ones they do make.

Last year the Vikings were 4-2 in the division. This year they are 1-3-1. I don’t know exactly why this is, but just an interesting note.

Injuries have been a factor in the team’s demise. Just today they were forced to make some moves. Per, PE.com:

  • Joe Banyard was promoted from the practice squad to add some depth at running back with both Adrian Peterson (foot, groin) and Toby Gerhart (hamstring) listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Matt Asiata, who has three career carries, would start if both Peterson and Gerhart can’t play. Banyard, who is 5 feet 11 and 213 pounds, played collegiately at Texas-El Paso and has been on the Vikings practice squad in 2012 and 2013.
  • The team activated safety Harrison Smith from Injured Reserve and placed cornerback Josh Robinson on IR. Smith started all 16 games in his rookie year of 2012 and then started 5 games this season before suffering a turf toe injury. He was placed on Injured Reserve in Week 7.
  • With the cornerback position extremely thin because of injuries, the Vikings promoted Robert Steeples from the practice squad and waived offensive tackle Mike Remmers. Steeples, a rookie who is 6-1 and 194 pounds, played with St. Louis in the preseason and then was added to Minnesota’s practice squad. Steeples could see playing time with Robinson out, Xavier Rhodes (knee) listed as doubtful and Chris Cook listed as questionable with a knee injury.

Man…their group of CBs is in bad shape. You have to come out throwing the ball. This just might be one of those games where you throw 20 passes in the 1st half and then work on running the ball in the 2nd half.

I wrote my preview for PE.com before seeing the injury info. The Eagles should win if they play a “clean” game. If the Eagles commit stupid penalties, have careless turnovers and struggle on STs, all bets are off. Those are the kinds of things that equalize a game between an 8-5 team and a 3-9-1 team. I don’t anticipate the Eagles playing a sloppy game, but you never know.

I expect Nick Foles to have a big day. Maybe not 7 TDs, but a really good game. I’m not sure the Vikings have anyone who can come close to running with DeSean Jackson. DJax will be playing on a fast surface. If the Vikes double him, Riley Cooper will have a chance to make some big plays. If the Vikes play Cover 2, Nick will pick them apart underneath.

What will the Minnesota offense look like if AP and Gerhart are limited or can’t go? That’s a tough question. That offense needs a stud RB. WR Cordarelle Patterson is the big X-factor. He’s a threat to go all the way with every touch. And he can be used as a runner from different formations.

UPDATE:

Ouch. This really makes life tough for the Vikings.

* * * * *

Here is a great preview of the game from Evan Silva of RotoWorld.

Eagles-Vikes is one of Sunday’s most fantasy-friendly games. The over-under is above 50 points, and the environment is indoors. A far cry from last week’s Philadelphia snowstorm, this game provides Nick Foles with an ideal setup for monster stats. Not only does Minnesota rank 30th against the pass, Leslie Frazier‘s defense has hemorrhaged an NFL-high 29 passing touchdowns, and lost emerging shutdown rookie CB Xavier Rhodes to a high ankle sprain in Week 14. Among Sunday and Monday’s games, the only quarterback I’d start over Foles this week is Drew Brees. … Foles’ target distribution since returning from a concussion five games ago: Riley Cooper 33; DeSean Jackson 27; Zach Ertzand LeSean McCoy 16; Jason Avant 12; Brent Celek 9; James Casey and Bryce Brown 3. … With at least 60 yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-13 games this season, Jackson has been among fantasy’s most consistent WR1s despite a somewhat boom-or-bust skill set. He has blowup-game potential on turf against an undermanned opponent. … Cooper has cooled off considerably over the past three weeks, but his target numbers and matchup suggest this is a good week to play him. There aren’t many dice-roll WR3s out there with a higher Week 15 ceiling.

Although each has flashed sporadically throughout the year, neither Ertz nor Celek has a stable enough role in Chip Kelly‘s passing attack to be trusted in fantasy semifinals week. Ertz followed up his 5-68-2 Week 13 game by going catch-less in last Sunday’s win over Detroit. Celek hasn’t cleared 50 yards since September. … Despite facing a Lions run defense that was as stingy as any in football the previous two months, McCoy broke the Eagles’ single-game rushing record with 217 yards in Week 14, besting Steve Van Buren’s 64-year-old mark of 205. Not only is No. 2 overall fantasy back McCoy matchup proof, he doesn’t even have to worry about his Week 15 matchup. The Vikings rank 22nd against the run and have coughed up 13 rushing touchdowns, ninth most in the league. With Adrian Peterson nursing a foot injury and Jamaal Charles taking on an above-average Raiders run defense, McCoy is fantasy’s No. 1 running back play this week.

Despite Christian Ponder‘s (concussion) full clearance, the Vikings will continue to start Matt Cassel at quarterback after he earned the job with back-to-back average performances that included a Week 13 overtime win over Chicago and Week 14 last-minute loss to Baltimore. Cassel is just barely in the two-quarterback-league hunt against Philly’s overachieving defense, which blitzes at the third highest frequency in football and has improved every week. Working against Cassel in Week 15 will be a banged-up Vikings run game expected to be minus Adrian Peterson(foot), and potentially even backup Toby Gerhart (hamstring). Unfailingly, Cassel has been a quarterback who in his career needs a foundation rushing attack to succeed. He’s very unlikely to have that Sunday, making the Eagles’ defense a sneaky fantasy streamer. … Cassel’s 2013 target distribution: Jerome Simpson 34; Greg Jennings 31;Cordarrelle Patterson and John Carlson 19; injured Kyle Rudolph 13; A.P. 11; Jarius Wright 9; Gerhart 6; Joe Webb 4. … Although his stats have been slightly better with Cassel than Ponder, Jennings has hit the 60-yard mark once since Week 4. He’s always a low-upside, ultimately undesirable WR3 option.

Averaging eight targets and five touches over the last month, explosive Patterson has parlayed the manufactured usage into 65 total yards per game and two touchdowns. While Patterson’s consistency is going to remain a concern as a raw rookie in a largely inept passing attack, it’s entirely possible playcaller Bill Musgrave formulates his Week 15 game plan around getting Patterson the rock, with Peterson not expected to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patterson handled 3-5 carries and caught 4-6 passes against the Eagles. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3 with a high ceiling. Still cheap on FanDuel ($5,600), Patterson is an enticing daily league play. He’s a big play waiting to happen. … Wildly inconsistent Simpson scored his first touchdown all year in Week 14 and has topped 60 yards in one of his last nine games. He isn’t a legitimate WR3 this week. … Peterson is always a must-start when active, but looks unlikely to be against the Eagles due to a mid-foot sprain. That leaves banged-up Gerhart (hamstring), who couldn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday, and fullback-tailback hybrid Matt Asiata in Minnesota’s backfield. Deep in the fantasy playoffs, I’d view this as a situation to avoid with so little workload and health clarity. It doesn’t help that the Eagles play formidable run defense. Philly ranks 15th versus the run and submits 3.95 YPC, the 11th stingiest clip in the league.

Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Vikings 13

* * * * *

A few comments on the last post and some stuff from the comments section.

RE: Andy Reid

Chip Kelly is off to a great start, but he has to show he can win in the postseason and have sustained success before we can say he’s a better coach than Reid. I like Kelly’s style better because it is more logical, but Reid didn’t win that much based on luck, a soft NFC East or Jim Johnson’s defense.

I still love Andy Reid and everything he did for this organization. He drove me crazy at times, but the man won games and helped put a strong infrastructure in place that is still lacking in Dallas and Washington. His style wasn’t for everyone, but anyone who thinks Reid isn’t a good coach isn’t paying attention.

RE: Fischer / Kasparov

Apparently they never played each other. I should have said Boris Spassky. Oops. Consider yourselves lucky that I knew the names of 2 chess players. That’s 3 more than Jimmy Bama can name.

_


  • Gary

    Looks like AP and Gerhart are both OUT…

    #Vikings players were informed tonight that Adrian Peterson will not play against the #Eagles. Toby Gerhart also http://t.co/Qot9j7kKAB— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) December 15, 2013

    • sprawl

      Looks like they’ll be starting Matt Asiata who they picked up as a UDFA last year.

      Here’s a list of every one of his NFL career carries in the regular season:
      1 yard
      3 yards
      5 yards.

      fin

      • JayGloab

        That’s a pretty strong trend

        • GermanEagle

          Yep, he would total 315 yards with only 15 carries following that trend…

      • Gary

        If his first carry is for 7 yards I’ll be scared.

        • TommyLawlor

          Yep.

        • Rambler

          There’s starting to be too much complex talk on this site for me… chess, math, sequence pattern recognition. I really just came here for the info on football and pudding.

    • ICDogg

      I find that you can get the picture of the tweet without the full echo of it by just finding the address of the tweet within the embed code.

      In this case it is[https://twitter.com/seankjensen/statuses/412084854063661056] and just putting that out there (without the brackets) is all you need to have.

      https://twitter.com/seankjensen/statuses/412084854063661056

      • ICDogg

        well, I didn’t expect it to truncate and make a link out of that, because of the brackets, but you probably get the idea.

        • Gary

          Hmm, I tried it and got the same thing you did. The echo does bother me though

  • SteveH

    Vikings secondary was miserable before they lost Cook and Rhodes, so they’re between a rock and a hard place. Commit extra men to defend the pass and Shady goes wild or stack the box and leave that awful secondary exposed.

    I’m feeling much more confident about this game now than I did earlier in the week.

  • T_S_O_P

    On the last article, Andy Reid set and left a culture here that has clearly benefitted Chip.

    • TommyLawlor

      Absolutely.

    • mtn_green

      Agreed, good mamagement and ownership go a long way. AR got 14 years, that tells a lot about the good organization. Chip and co are benefitting.

  • Michael Jorden

    Have to be pretty confident, but it just seems too easy for the Eagles. Hopefully it goes down just the way it looks and they get up big early to effectively put the Vikes out of their misery.

    • GEAGLE

      Depends on ST….special teams TDs are the only way they can keep up with us, unless we decided to start shooting ourselves in the foot now..

      If we continue to commit less penalties then our opposition and turn it over less, then the Vikings won’t have the horses to overcome the coaching advantage we bring into this game
      ..
      AR is a great coach. But I think it would be a joke for him to win coach of the year over chip

    • jshort

      I’m hoping it goes our way too. Last week had to take one of my wife’s xanax, when Detroit went up 14-0. Missed the post game sleeping in the lucky chair.

  • A_T_G

    My prediction, which I don’t usually make, is that the Viking play the scrappy underdog until Bradley Fletcher undercuts a quick out to Patterson and takes it for a pick-6. After that, the fight goes out of MIN and BF becomes everyone’s BFF.

    • GEAGLE

      Earlier this week I predicted Mr.mDevember/January/first week of Febuary lol Cary F’in Williams will get two picks these last 3 games….I’m sticking with that

  • Corry

    I’m pretty confident (which should have every one of you worried) that the Birds can blow out the Vikings. Too many injuries for the Vikings and the Birds are on too much of a roll.

    Also, go Pack, go!

  • Andy124

    which blitzes at the third highest frequency in football
    If we’re in a 3 man front and send Cole from OLB, are they counting that as a blitz?

    I would think it should only be counted as a blitz if they send 5 or more.

    • cliff henny

      jeeze, cringe when seeing only 3 man rush. know davis like to change it up, but still

      • ACViking

        When the Eagles get better at CB, I think we’ll see even more of the 3-man rush on 3rd and long.

        • cliff henny

          i get the strategy. but rushing 3 and getting no pressure, sometimes think, why not rush none. be pretty funny site.

          • mtn_green

            No one was getting pressure in snow bowl, 3 7 didn’t matter. Might as well just mix it up make stafford nervous as to where coverage is.

  • GEAGLE

    Welcome to the BCS style, BOOTS to ASSES bowl, and our ass won’t be the one that’s sore when this game ends :)

    Let’s get out of this one injury free, increasing our ROAD WARRIOR record to 6-1, and put on a show for Chicago!!!

    • cliff henny

      let’s hope so. sounds like Minne is fielding a 4th pre-season game level team. know they are paid professionals, but shouldnt be much of a match.

      • GEAGLE

        As long as we keep their ST from junking up the game

    • ACViking

      Si puo parlare solo le aquile . . . ventiquattro-sette

  • austinfan

    Their CBs are terrible. PFF rates Cook as worst in the league when healthy, Rhodes is doubtful with a bad ankle (given he’s a CB, probably means he won’t dress), their second CB is 5’10 175 Marcus Sherels, and their 3rd CB is Shaun Prater, who lost his job to Roc Carmichael. I expect them to go 3 S a lot given their poor coverage LBs (Cole and Henderson) with Smith as the rover back.

    Rudolph and Carlson are both out, which hurts their run and pass blocking. Ellison is a good blocking H-back (not much of a receiver) but not a true TE, and Chas Ford (was he in our camp?) ain’t much to write home about. With Asiata running (4.75 speed), everything is going to be power runs inside with Felton beating up on our LBs.

    There is no excuse for losing this game, playing both safeties back, they should never get beat deep, and you can let them grind between the 20s and kick a few FGs. Meanwhile, Foles should light them up.

    • cliff henny

      little, very little, part of me feels bad for viking fans. know what they are going thru as it sounds very similar to eagles by end of last year. fielding half a team just stinks and it’s not like they even have a young qb’s developement to watch.

      • ACViking

        CH:

        You hammered the point: Vikes — like Jax, Houston, Oak — have no young QB on hand.

        And the 2014 QB draft class is shrinking to the point of (possible) irrelevance . . . ‘cept for Jonathan Pigskin (whom I think would fit well with the Eagles).

      • jshort

        Better them than us, Won’t feel sorry for them until game is over and we hang about 50 pts on their D. Will feel a little bad for Leslie, only because of his ties to us, along as we walk outa there with a big W

  • Scott J

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how accurate Nick Foles will be. He should have open receivers all day.

  • bdbd20

    Late word out of Minneapolis is that they found James Mungro working at a gas station and promptly signed him.

    They plan on starting Joe Webb at QB and somehow managed to trade for Kenny Britt.

    • ACViking

      James Mungro? That is a gratuitously hurtful thought.

      The guy looked like Jim Brown (another Syracuse alum) against the Eagles. Ugh.

  • Mike Flick

    I am really trying, but I am too overconfident. Special teams screw ups and wacky turnovers are the only thing that should mess this up.

    As long as St. Nick shows up, we should all be merry.

  • ACViking

    Re: Vikes’ Bad O-line / A Good Day for a Defensive TD

    The Minnesota O-line is struggling. OLT Matt Kahil (4th overall in 2012) has regressed and is having trouble protecting the QB’s blindside.

    And the Vikes cannot shorten the game today with Peterson or Gerhart.

    That puts it just about all on Cassel.

    Now, before the Snowy McCoy game, T-Coles was lighting it up off the edge.

    So if there’s a week for a defensive TD off a strip-sack fumble-return, today’s the day.

    One key is field position. Can’t let CPatterson dominate the return game.

    • OregonDucker

      Thanks for your post AC. I read on a Vikings blog recently that their OL was very good and thus would give Cassel lots of time. Sometimes the truth will set you free. lol smh

      • mtn_green

        Bad QB can make a OL look bad.
        Petersen is #2 can’t be that bad on rush.

  • P_P_K

    Andy Reid reminds me of an old girlfriend. Wait, that came out wrong. It’s just that I still can’t get him out of my mind. So, I’ll respond to the comment in Tommy’s post.

    There is no arguing that Reid was a very good coach with the Eagles. No arguement at all. My problem with him is, as Tommy said, he approached football like it was his personal chess game and he was so damn smart he could outfox every other coach. He didn’t do the thing he constantly said he would do — put his players in the position to succeed.

    If Reid was still here, there’s no way that Shady would have the same number of touches. He wouldn’t be leading the league in rushing and comparisons with Barry Sanders wouldn’t be kicked around. I also think Foles is lucky he’s under Chip’s tutelage. He’s having time to develop as a young qb, not being asked to throw the ball 40 times a game.

    I still think warmly of Andy (forget the girlfriend comparison) but I’m really glad he’s gone and Chip is the head coach.

    • A Roy

      Like many relationships, (y)ours with Andy went like this: 6 months (years) of pure bliss, 5 months hoping it would get better and 3 months waiting for the door to slam.

      • P_P_K

        If you are a marriage counselor I’ll bet you have a line outside your office.

        • A Roy

          Just hoping we’re as happy with Chippah as we were with AR for the first several years. Looks good so far, but we’ll find out soon enough if he snores too loud or chases the neighbor’s wife.

          • ACViking

            A Roy:

            What you just wrote is the important thing to remember about Reid.

          • A Roy

            I know it didn’t happen immediately, but the beginning of the end was when Andy ceded play calling to Mornhinwig. After some initial success, that went downhill.

          • ACViking

            Totally agree. A growing nightmare.

            An almost pathological refusal to run the ball with that big O-line that Castillo coached.

  • A Roy

    Okay everybody… Let’s Go Packers! Let’s Go Packers! Let’s go Packers!.

  • ACViking

    The playoffs have started for the Eagles.

    All they have to do is take care of their own business for the next 6 weeks.

    It’s doable . . . because in the NFL, anything can happen — and usually does.

  • BobSmith77

    ‘Trap Game’ except the trap is rusty and not working very well.

    A healthy Peterson/Rhodes for the Vikings at least make this game potentially a bit more interesting. No reason the Eagles shouldn’t win this game by at least 7 pts or more.

  • NinjaP

    Too bad the vikings are banged up, would rather the eagles played them at their best.

    • A Roy

      At this point, I do not need to see Style Points.

  • mtn_green

    Kasparov refused to play Fischer cause he is a Jew. Thats why they never played. The chess authority eventually took Kasparovs title.

    • jshort

      Fischer would have loved that statement.