October 12, 2019
The Eagles are set to take on an increasingly familiar foe in Week 6, as the Vikings have played a big role in Philadelphia over the past few years — most notably as the team the Birds beat in the 2018 NFC Championship game to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LII.
In Minnesota on Sunday, the Vikings are around a 3-point favorite, depending on where you look. They are led by Kirk Cousins, a QB Eagles fans know well from his days in Washington and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, a former UPenn player and Philly native.
Sunday's 1 p.m. (ET) bout is the first of three important and consecutive games on the road — Dallas and Buffalo are the other two — and is the start of the toughest stretch of the season. If the Eagles are to be playoff hopefuls, they must have a winning record over their next three games.
As we do each and every week, here's a look at five fun over unders as the two 3-2 teams prepare to do battle:
If you combine the averages of both teams through the first five games of the season, the Eagles and Vikings average roughly 50 points per game. So the obvious bet is the over, right? At PhillyVoice, three of our six writers picked the game to go over, with Evan Macy picking the under and Natalie Egenolf projecting the score to hit the number spot on. Here's some of Evan's reasoning:
I think the Eagles offense struggles without DeSean Jackson again and the first team to 20 points wins it. With almost no confidence whatsoever, I am picking the Eagles thanks to what I predict will be a potent pass rush and a defensive touchdown. I also expect them to control the clock with the run game. They'll keep pace with the Cowboys for first in the NFC East but by a hair.With the Vikings averaging just 22 points per game and very focused on ball control and the ground game — and Philly still missing their most explosive weapon — this one could be a defensive battle. Since Evan Macy happens to be writing this, we'll stick with our gut here.
First, a bit on how we arrived at this number. The Eagles top rated run defense is set to go against the Vikings No. 3 rated rushing attack — led of course by Dalvin Cook. Philly has allowed 63 yards on the ground per game while Minnesota has run for 166. Splitting the difference gives us around 115.
Cousins has potent weapons in the air in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but the Eagles still think getting Minnesota to be one dimensional is a winning strategy. They have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in ages, but they'll have their hands full in these next two games going against Cook, and Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas next week.
Still, we're optimistic that the Eagles run defense is, in fact, legit.
The Eagles are now averaging 2.6 sacks per game after pummeling the Jets for 10 last week — upping their total to 13 on the year. Was last week's defensive explosion a sign of the flood gates opening on a potent pass rush, or just of a putrid New York offensive line?
The Vikings have a much better line, to be sure, but Jimmy Kempski seems to think there is opportunity:
As usual, the Vikings' offensive line has some serious concerns. They're fine enough on the edges, with Riley Reiff at LT and Brian O'Neill at RT, but they give up way too much pressure on the inside, as the trio of LG Pat Elflein, C Garrett Bradbury, and RG Josh Kline have really struggled in pass protection.
Fletcher Cox has a good chance of nabbing his first QB sack of the year Sunday. We're like the D-line's chances.
As they were in their championship year in 2017, the Eagles are one of the best teams on third down in all of football (depending on how you measure it).
|Third Down conversions per game||7.4||1st|
|Third down percentage||52.9%||2nd|
Only the Texans have a better conversion rate on third down, and the Eagles have the most total conversions on third down this year. They also have Carson Wentz, who is nearly automatic when he sneaks it on third and short. Keeping it going against the Vikings will be key in Week 6, a team which has a top 10 third down defense allowing just 35% thus far in 2019. Which unit will hold supreme?
Similar to the above stat, the Eagles have an impressive red zone offense, converting touchdowns on 68.5% of opportunities inside the 20 yardline. They average 3.6 trips per game and find paydirt on 2.6 of them.
By contrast, the Vikings have a top 5 red zone defense, allowing a tick over 45 percent of chances to result in touchdowns (it's worth noting the Eagles defense is in the top 10 in this category as well).
It's hard to imagine the Eagles suddenly becoming less astute inside the 20, as they seem to be one of the more creative teams when the end zone is near. They also boast more than a few big reliable weapons — like Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and others.
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