Eagles Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox didn’t mince words yesterday when he said, “Whichever defense plays the best is going to win. We must play better than their defense.” It was simple and it was correct. Both the Eagles and Vikings defense are better than the Eagles and Vikings offenses. I expect a low scoring game.
I love the matchups we will see: Alshon Jeffery vs. Xavier Rhodes, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby vs. Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs, Zach Ertz vs. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. They are too many to name.
Of course the number one matchup is between the two backup quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, who find themselves starting this year’s NFC Championship game. Keenum has more ability to extend plays, but Foles is quicker in the getting the ball out of his hands. You’ll see Keenum attempt to buy time to give his receivers a chance to get open. Foles will be one-two-three and the ball is coming out, when he’s in a groove.
I see this game being decided by a turnover. The Eagles can’t afford to make the mistakes against the Vikings that they made against the Falcons. They can’t start the game out with a Jay Ajayi fumble. The Special Teams can’t afford to muff a punt and let Minnesota recover the ball in the Eagles backyard.
The outstanding defensive performance against the Falcons allowed the Eagles to win despite the sloppy plays. They can’t afford to do it this week.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said the Birds defensive line wants to prove they are the best defensive line in the league. Both teams have tremendous talent on all three levels of their defense, but it’s all going to come down to which defense plays best on Sunday January 21st, 2018.
This is the type of game in which you should play things close to the vest for most of the contest, but you pick your spots when to take chances with a deep pass or flee-flicker. The Eagles showed the counter runs with Nelson Agholor carrying the ball in their win over the Falcons, so they need to find another way to get the ball into Nelson’s hands in this game.
I like the matchup of Agholor, who is both quick and fast against Vikings nickel back Mackensie Alexander. The Saints did a good job of exploiting Alexander, when he came in the game last weekend. If veteran Terrence Newman is matched up on Agholor, I would like to see the Birds go deep against him.
I think Nick Foles should look to his slot receiver and tight end this week because I think they’re the best matchups vs. the Vikings. I don’t like the matchups outside with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
The Eagles secondary must not forget to be ready for some double-move routes. They didn’t see in the Falcons game, but the cornerbacks struggled with that route late in the season.
I’ve got the Eagles winning 16-13 with the game being decided on the final drive.