The Sports Bash: Eagles Rush Defense Needs to Shine vs Vikings
The NFC playoff race heats up this week with the Eagles and Vikings looking for a little separation. The winner of this Sunday's game between 3-2 teams will put itself in a solid position to make a post-season appearance.
Teams that open the season winning four of their first six games have gone on to make the playoffs 62.9 percent of the time, while teams that open the season winning three of their first six games only made the playoffs 36.1 percent of the time.
Sunday’s game in Minnesota should be interesting for the Eagles. The Vikings are one of the top rushing teams in the league, third best in the league, while the Eagles are the top team in the league at stopping the run.
Let’s look ahead to Sunday’s game.
• The game plan will likely be to run the ball for the Vikings. The running offense is their personality and it’s starting to pick up. Dalvin Ciook is one of the best and most versatile in the league with 742 scrimmage yards through five games, she's second in the NFL with 542 rushing yards, averaging 5.9 yards per attempt.
The Vikings have rushed for 166.4 rush yards per game, third most in the NFL. That could be the way they attack the Eagles defense, but they might find it difficult to find yards on the ground against them.
The Eagles have one of the most talented defensive lines in football, allowing just 63.0 rush yards per game, fewest in the NFL.
• You would have to figure running back Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders will be getting action. Howard had 28 carries and 149 yards in the past two games. Sanders, meanwhile, has been more valuable in the passing game with absence of DeSean Jackson, catching four passes for 49 yards in the win over the Jets.
• It will be interesting to see how the Eagles defend Kirk Cousins. He has the ability to successfully execute the play-action, and the Eagles might see a lot of him taking shots at their beat-up secondary. The Vikings have two very good weapons at wide receiver in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, meaning Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones will be caled on to have big days.
Cousins has struggled in his second season in Minnesota, but had one of his best games as a Viking last week in a win over the Giants. He completed 22-of-27 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns
• This is a game where the Eagles must get sacks. They have 13 sacks on this season, including 10 last week in the win over the Jets and the Vikings have a troubled offensive line that has allowed 11 sacks this season.
It doesn't help the Vikings starting right guard Josh Kline has been ruled out.
• There will be a lot of pressure on cornerback Douglas and Jones, particularly if they have to play more man coverage against Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, two Pro Bowl receivers.
One key for the Eagles corners is to find Thielan and keep him in front of the defense and come up and tackle him.
The Pick: Eagles 30, Vikings 27