By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings play the the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Mall of America Field.
The Vikings (3-9-1) are coming off a late fourth quarter loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the Eagles (8-5) are coming off fourth quarter rally victory over the Detroit Lions.
The Eagles are 5-1 on the road this season, with wins over the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers. The lone loss is to the Denver Broncos. The Eagles have been very fortunate in playing some of the league’s worst teams on the road. Including the Vikings, the Eagles have six road games against teams currently ranked in the bottom half of the league.
Eagles on Offense
The Eagles have the No. 1 ranked run offense in the league. LeSean McCoy leads the way with a league-leading 1,305 yards.
There was a lot of talk about Chip Kelly’s offensive up-tempo scheme at the University of Oregon and how it would translate to the NFL. Nick Foles has emerged as a very good NFL quarterback. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns and one interception, which came in last week’s blizzard against the Lions.
The Eagles struggled to run the ball against the Lions on the right side of the offensive line. Right guard Todd Herremans and right tackle Lane Johnson struggled to sustain blocks or get to the second level with any consistency.
Eagles on Defense
The Eagles defense has been very good of late and has held opponents to 21 points or less in each of their last nine games.
Philadelphia runs a 3-4 base scheme and the three down lineman controlled play against the Lions. They did not give the Lions any room to run the ball. Defensive ends Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox consistently knocked the opposing blocker backward.
Eagles Players to Watch
Running back LeSean McCoy. The 5-foot-11-inch, 208-pound fifth-year veteran is the league’s leading rusher. The Vikings need to contain him to control the game., as the Eagles offense goes as McCoy goes. He is coming off an amazing 217-yard performance, most of which came after the snow subsided.
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The 6-fot-1-inch, 247-pound eighth-year veteran leads the Eagles with 110 tackles and has been the team’s best linebacker. He also is one off the team’s sack lead with three.
The Eagles have won five straight and seven of the last nine games. The magic number is 21. In those last nine games, when the Eagles top the 21-point mark, they win. When they don’t, they lose. The Vikings regularly give up a lot of points. The Eagles have a clear advantage and will be heavy favorites, despite playing in Minneapolis.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.