The Minnesota Vikings take their undefeated record on the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday after having their bye last week. The Eagles, meanwhile, are coming off a loss to the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins.
The Eagles remain above .500, but have not won since Week 3. They defeated the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers before having their bye in Week 4. Since then, they have lost to the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.
At home they’re 2-0 this season. They beat the winless Browns in Week 1 and Steelers two weeks late while outscoring their opponents 63-13 in the two home wins.
The Eagles are 22nd in the league in total offense with 338.8 yards per game. They are a better running team with 113.6 yards per game (eighth in the league) even though their passing offense sits 26th with just 225.2 yards per game.
The entire unit struggled against the Redskins in Week 6. They ran for 94 yards and passed 145 totaling 239 yards of offense. Leading rusher Ryan Mathews ran for 60 yards, but had only nine carries. No one else had more than Darren Sproles’ four carries for 20 yards. In the passing game, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz completed just 11 of 22 passes for 179 yards and was sacked five times.
The Eagles offensive line as a whole was okay, but two starters really struggled. Center Jason Kelce has not been good and rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled to fill suspended starter Lane Johnson’s shoes. In 27 called pass plays (dropbacks) against the Redskins, Wentz was under pressure 13 times and only blitzed three. The Vikings will need to take advantage of individual matchups they can create against those two players with Linval Joseph, linebackers in the double-A gap and Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter at left end.
The Eagles defense is sixth in the NFL allowing 312 yards per game. They are stronger against the pass allowing 207.4 yards per game (fourth in the league) and their run defense is a step behind at 17th in the league allowing 104.6 yards per game.
The Eagles got solid play out of their defensive line despite allowing 230 yards and seven yards per carry against the Redskins even though both numbers were inflated by a few long runs. Linebacker Jordan Hicks led the team with two tackles for a loss while safety Rodney McLeod led the team with 14 tackles. Linebacker Nigel Bradham had the most complete game with 10 tackles, 0.5 for a loss and a pass defended. Safety Malcolm Jenkins recorded an interception for a touchdown.
The Eagles defensive line wore down as the game went on with starter Bennie Logan playing only 17 of 74 snaps.
Players to Watch
Wentz’s favorite and most talented receiving target is slot wide receiver Jordan Matthews. The third-year receiver has the size to compete on the outside, but excels working the more athletic slot routes. The Eagles find ways to get him the ball and Wentz looks for him whenever possible. Matthews leads the Eagles with 22 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns. The only one-on-one matchup the Eagles could have the advantage in is Matthews against Vikings nickel cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
On defense, McLeod leads the Eagles in tackles (37) and interceptions (two). He signed with the Eagles as a free agent last offseason after beginning his career with the St. Louis Rams. Pro Football Focus rated him as the fourth best free agent safety. They also state that he has improved against both the pass and run each of his first three years.
The Eagles look good at home. Their Week 3 win over the Steelers was dominant to say the least and was very impressive. Despite playing on the road since their bye week, there are more questions surrounding the legitimacy of their 3-2 record. When the Eagles have the ball, the Vikings have the advantage in just every matchup. When the Vikings have the ball, they will go as the offensive line goes. The Vikings will be favored. If the Eagles had beaten the Redskins, the odds may be different. As it is, the Vikings are more talented and playing better right now. The Vikings should not have a problem getting to 6-0.