Two teams coming off emotional victories, with dominant defenses, back-up QBs, playmakers sprinkled around their offense…it’s the Vikings vs. Eagles playoff pick.
How much does momentum carry over from week-to-week? For me, it doesn’t. I don’t believe in momentum playing a role from one half to the next, let alone from one week to the next, so I’m not caught up at all in the way these two teams are coming into this matchup. And I suggest you don’t get wrapped up in the hype around “momentum” and any role that may, or may not, play in this one.
What we do have here though are two remarkably similar teams, with similar storylines following them into this NFC Conference battle. We noted above about both boasting top-tier defensive units. Yes, you have to give a small edge to the Vikings, who are a little more well-rounded (particularly in the backfield), but the Eagles front seven are right there with the elite of the NFL. Neither O is going to have much fun trying to move the ball.
Both offenses are built with the ground game being the engine that drives them, setting up a complimentary passing game that, while they can go vertical, will focus on not turning the ball over, moving the chains when they can and digging in to win the field position battle.
Sure, neither QB should be in this spot, but here they are. Nick Foles has not looked great, admittedly, but (and I need to note I’m thought of as a bit of a Foles apologist amongst my friend group) he can manage this game, even vs. a defense as good as Minny.
He needs to make smart decisions (i.e. don’t do what Keenum did when he got picked after chucking that ball up for grabs off his back foot), and get rid of the ball quickly. Look for him to put the ball in Alshon Jeffrey’s hands and TE Zach Ertz when he does throw. Both could be difference-makers. We did see the Saints’ receivers and tight ends find room and make plays last week (and yes, I’m well aware it was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer tossing to them, not a back-up with a choppy resume).
But Foles did a capable job of doing what was needed vs. the Falcons last weekend – protecting the ball, making the smart play and guiding this offense to a victory that was certainly no work of art – but it was a win.
Let’s go for round two on that formula. No, he’s not Carson Wentz, but Case Keenum isn’t going to light anyone up either. I just don’t see a scenario where Foles is responsible for chasing down a big lead. I expect this to be close, which sets up nicely for Doug Pederson (despite his flaws) and this offense. Grind away.
When Minnesota has the ball, they don’t have the type of unit that can overly stress this Eagle D. The Eagles finished fifth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA ratings (while the Vikings finished second). I see some tough sledding ahead for Keenum and crew.
I don’t love the matchup for Philadelphia, but I like it when considering the points and homefield.
I’ll take the underdog home team getting more than a field goal.
The play is Philadelphia +3.5
Good luck and enjoy the games. Be sure to stop by the Everyedge Sports Betting Forum for more picks and opinions from a great group of sports bettors around North America.