The Philadelphia Eagles are again underdogs this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings, in the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game. The betting line in Vegas this weekend has taken the Vikings at 3.5 point favorites for the game this weekend. The game is kicking off at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles). Last weekend, everyone and their grandmother picked the Falcons to beat the Eagles. Most of the Staff at ESPN picked Matt Ryan and the Falcons to come to Philadelphia and win. Doug Pederson (Head Coach of the Eagles) mentioned how ever Since (QB) Carson Wentz went down that everyone has written off the Eagles. Post-game celebration of the win included offense lineman Lane Johnson and defensive lineman Chris Long wearing dog mask(s) around the field. Their opponent, the Vikings, made their way to Philadelphia with an improbable last second touchdown from (WR) Stefon Diggs to beat the New Orleans Saints with zero time remaining on the clock.
Here are a few reasons why the Eagles should be taken seriously this week:
Lincoln Financial Field
Home field advantage is something that has seemingly been forgotten about this year. No one believes in the Eagles, except the entire city of Philadelphia. Again, the entire crew of Sunday NFL Countdown picked the Falcons last week. 18 Sports Illustrated writers took the Falcons as well. This should only add fuel to the fire. It is safe to say that there is no better atmosphere than playoff football right now in Philadelphia. From being there on Saturday, the game was loud, intimidating, and a madhouse. I was at the game and I could barely hear my brother who was sitting right next to me (Sentence is a little too unprofessional.. Say something like “The ability to hear, is a rare commodity. That place is rocking”). This Sunday, I expect people standing up the entire game and having it sound like a rock n’ roll concert. Case in point, the people in attendance for last week’s game were out of their seats for the entirety of the game.
On the flip side, the Vikings have had a great season, but they have played significantly worse on the road. Two of the Three Vikings losses this season have come on the road. Aside from this year, the Vikings are also 3-13 on the road in away playoff games since 1982. Now lets not forget that the Eagles are 4-0 as home underdogs. That includes last weeks win against the Atlanta Falcons. Most importantly, Case Keenum is also 1-4 against teams with records .666.
Alshon’s Possible Big Day
What I will be looking for is how the Eagles are able to move the ball on this vaunted )Not everyone knows what this word means.. Assume that you are writing to a 7th grader whos interested in the eagles) Vikings defense.
If you take a look at what the Saints did last week, The Saints pressured Xavier Rhodes with Michael Thomas, who leads the team in catching yards and receptions.
However, Alshon Jeffery is exactly that threat for the Eagles. Alshon Jeffery is ultimately suiting for this game. Jeffery spent his entire career with the Chicago Bears until this season. With regards to this match-up, Alshon Jeffery has 7 touchdowns in 9 games against the Vikings. Yikes.
Xavier Rhodes has been beaten by Jeffery before, but look for the Eagles to work the Run-Pass-Option (RPO) in order to break down the Vikings defense.
The battles of the quarterbacks is intriguing as well.
Nick Foles had a passer rating of 100.1 against the Falcons last weekend. Case Keenum looked solid, but got bailed out by one of the worst defensive plays of all time (hyperlink the Minnesota Miracle). The Saints were on their way to Philadelphia, but unfortunately Marcus Williams had other plans.
The Eagles defense is looking in peak form. They held Julio and that potent Atlanta offense to 4-13 on third downs. They held the falcons to a total 81 rush yards. Mind you, the Vikings like to run the ball. This favors an Eagles defense that has been stifling against the run this year have held teams at 71.3 yards per game at home. People in Philadelphia were skeptical after the last few weeks of the season; However, they showed up and performed, so look for Fletcher Cox to make Case Keenums night difficult.
Overall, if the Eagles get pressure, I think Keenum will give up turnovers similar to that of his interception against the Saints. Keenum, when pressured last weekend, had a passer rating of 5.1.
Jalen Mills said it best, “DISRESPECT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.” Lincoln Financial Field is going to be rocking this Sunday and I expect a gritty game with the defenses taking center stage. But everyone knows Philadelphia loves a good underdog story.
A Superbowl birth is on the line, so look for the Eagle’s defense and Alshon Jeffery to shine bright.