Know Your Enemy – Vikings

Posted: October 10th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Rivalries can come out of nowhere and it feels like that is what’s happened with the Eagles and Vikings. They faced each other in the 2008 playoffs, but the teams hardly seemed like rivals. They’ve had some interesting meetings (the Joe Webb Game for instance), but nothing special.

Until January of 2018.

The two teams met in the  NFC Championship game and that created a rivalry. The teams and fanbases didn’t like each other. The Eagles won in a blowout. Making matters worse, the Eagles then went on to win the Super Bowl in the Vikings home stadium. They poured salt in the wound and then some. I’m not talking about a little. The Eagles grabbed a 20-pound bag and went to town.

The teams played last year, with the Vikings winning an odd game 23-21. Both teams are playing better football right now.

Minnesota is 3-2. They have the #3 rushing attack in the league and they have a Top 5 defense. This is the kind of old school football that Mike Zimmer wanted. It is fair to question just how much success you can have with this formula in 2019. I think you can be a good team doing this, but you need the right QB for those times when the run game gets shut down and you must be able to throw the ball. Is Kirk Cousins that guy? History would say no. We’ll see if that changes this year.

Dalvin Cook is having a great year. He is second in the league in rushing and averages 5.9 yards per carry. Cook is explosive and has delivered multiple big plays this year. The Vikings have two other RBs averaging more than 5 ypc. That tells you the overall run game is functioning at a high level.

The O-line is struggling in pass protection, but they are getting the job done in the run game. The Eagles must win the battle up front.

Cousins and the Vikings passing attack are still a mystery. Last year the group was great at times. This is a very different offense. Cousins has 5 TD passes in 5 games. He hasn’t thrown for 280 yards in a game. Stefon Diggs was reportedly asking for a trade last week. Those rumors have gone away, but there is no question that Diggs and Adam Thielen are frustrated with the inconsistent passing game.

One of the issues with this team is figuring out how good the Vikings are. They have wins over Atlanta, Oakland and the Giants. None of those teams is particularly good. Minnesota’s losses came to Green Bay and Chicago, a pair of good teams.

I watched the game between the Vikings and the Bears. Chicago absolutely dominated that game. The Vikings had 95 yards of total offense at one point in the fourth quarter. They finished with 222 yards for the game, but needed to get hot to even get to that point.

The Vikings defense has been outstanding for the past four seasons. Danielle Hunter is the star up front. He’s got 5 sacks and has been regularly disruptive. The Eagles will need to contain him.

Minnesota has good LBs and a good secondary as well. That back seven can play the run and cover. They tackle well.

While the offense is different, this is the same scheme the Eagles have faced since Doug Pederson got here. There won’t be any secrets. The team that wins will execute better on the field.

The Vikings will be a good test for the Eagles. Can Jim Schwartz and his top-ranked run defense shut down Cook and the Vikings run game? Will facing a top defense bring out the best in Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense?

There is also the question of whether the Eagles can win a third straight game. Last year the Eagles seemed to go W-L-W-L until late in the year when they got hot. A win on Sunday would get the Eagles to 4-2 and keep them atop the NFC East. Good teams must be able to string wins together.

Who is the better team, the Vikings or the Eagles? You can make a case for either of them. I lean toward the Eagles because of how I saw the Bears dominate Minnesota. That was something else. Football Outsiders DVOA rankings have the Eagles ahead as well. Sunday will be a good test for both teams.

We’re heading toward the middle of the NFL season, where we find out who the good teams are. Sunday will help clear things up between these two teams.

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I doubt this makes a huge difference, but it can’t hurt.

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