PREVIOUS GAME RESULTS
2013 WEEK 15 – PHI 30 MIN 48
2010 WEEK 16 – MIN 24 PHI 14
2008 WILDCARD – PHI 26 MIN 14
Player to Watch – Carson Wentz
Last week Carson Wentz looked like a rookie for the first time in 2 months. Since his 1st interception all the way back in pre-season. I didn’t like his mechanics and thought he rushed a couple throws. When his elbow drops the ball can sail on him and thats exactly what happened last week. To his credit he battled all game and took a number of hits and really made some nice throws. He didn’t get much help from from his line and coaching staff. Wentz comes into this game with a 90.9 overall rating per PFF.com. This ranks him second behind Tom Brady. This Vikings defense is no joke. Through 5 games they’ve put up some impressive numbers. Numbers that compare eye to eye with some of the best defenses of all time. Carson will need stay calm and just take what the defense gives him. Last week he tried to force a number of throws as the game went on. The Eagles match up well with the Vikings based on when and where this game is being played. Stay calm and trust your mechanics. It will be fun to watch the battle with in the battle against Vikings Safety Harrison Smith. Smith, like Wentz has the 2nd highest grade for his position. Smith comes in at 89.1 per PFF.com. I think Harrison Smith is the best Safety in football right now.
Player to Watch – Haalpoulivaati Vaitai
We featured Vaitai last week and I think it’s worth taking another look at him. He struggled. There’s no 2 ways about it. Like Wentz he didn’t get much help from his coaching staff. After getting 52 snaps Big V graded out at a 39.0. Only a little worse than reality TV fun boy Jason Kelce at 44.0 per PFF.com. Big V and this OL in general will have their hands full with arguably one of the best defensive fronts in football. His first test will be Vikings DE Danielle Hunter. Hunter is having a solid season grading out at 79.2 per PFF.com. Hunter is fundamentally sound and can play the run on his way to the passer. Something the Eagles struggled with last week. Similar to the Eagles the Vikings like to mix and match there DL. Big V will have number of guys lined up across from through out the game. Mike Zimmer and his staff and have been foaming at the mouth at the prospects of this Eagles line. With an extra week to prepare they will be throwing everything at the rookie RT.
Match-Up to Watch – Doug Pederson vs Mike Zimmer
Normally we feature players in this segment. I went a different route because I think the winner of this game will have out schemed the other. Last week was the first game of the year where I thought the Eagles were completely out – coached and in some cases looked un-prepared for the game. Doug said it himself after the loss he may have put too much on the plate of Big V (paraphrasing). This is about more than Big V. I didn’t like how conservative the Eagles got on some crucial 3rd downs. I understand what Doug was thinking but play calling was awful. You could tell after 2 drives in that Redskins game this wasn’t going to go well. I think the Eagles need to scale back the game plan for this week. Simply things against an attacking defense and just take what the defense gives them. Being able to run the football will certainly help keep the defense off balance. When Eagles did run the football last week they were effective. Mathews had 9 carries for 60 yards. If the Eagles abandon the run this week they will be dominated right off the field. Mike Zimmer does a great job disguising his defense. The Vikings like to corner blitz a lot so Wentz and Pederson must be aware of the potential disguises.
Player to Watch – Fletcher Cox
Cox was one of many Eagles to have a subpar game last week against the Skins. In particular the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month committed a bonehead roughing the passer call which extended a drive. The entire defensive line, not just Cox, lacked gap discipline in the run game leading to a huge day for the Washington offense on the ground. The wide-9 has been a hot topic this week because of the huge holes which were there last Sunday. I don’t see the scheme changing in that respect so the players will need to be more discipline. PFF still has Cox graded as the 4th best defensive tackle, but his rush grade needs improvement. He’ll be facing a less talented group of linemen against the Vikings than he did with the Redskins. The Eagles defense as always will need to generate pressure with four rushers rather than relying on the blitz. All eyes will be on Fletcher Cox this Sunday to see how he leads this group especially if Bennie Logan is unable to go.
Player to Watch – Stefon Diggs
The second year wideout from Maryland missed the team’s last game dealing with a groin injury. Diggs had the bye week to further progress his recovery, but his availability still remains in question for Sunday at the Linc. Sam Bradford and Diggs have had a great connection since the former Eagles signal caller has taken over the starting job in Week 2. Pro Football Focus has Diggs graded as the number three wide receiver even after missing Week 5 against Houston. Diggs exploded the first two weeks with 16 receptions for almost 300 yards highlighted by a 46 yard touchdown against the Packers in Week 2. Since that point his yards per game have been below 50 in the past two games he’s played. The Vikings wide receiver group is largely unknown besides Diggs with Adam Thielen considered the number one in his absence. Tight end Kyle Rudolph would see an increased number of targets if Diggs was unable to suit up. The Eagles corners have been less impressive especially Nolan Carroll who seemingly allows a completion every time he’s targeted. The health of starter Leodis McKelvin remains unknown due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Match-Up to Watch – Sam Bradford vs. Eagles Defense
This isn’t exactly ground breaking news here, but the spotlight will be on Bradford in his return to face his former team. The Eagles defense has struggled mightily the past two weeks especially in the first half with an inability to get off the field on third down. Bradford and the Vikings had an extra week of prep work for the Eagles as they are coming off their bye. He’s played against this group of players the past two training camps, and will also be able to provide valuable information as it relates to the Eagles offensive strategy. Bradford has never faced a scenario such as this in his career since the Rams are no longer even in St. Louis. I expect Sleeves to be greeted rudely in his return to the Linc, but the real fun starts when we see how Jim Schwartz attacks the signal caller. As I mentioned, the defense has been brutal in the first half the prior two weeks and last week had the most missed tackles in the league. The pass rush was stymied by the offensive line of the Redskins which kept Kirk Cousins upright pretty much all game. We all know the injury history of Bradford and the impact a crowded pocket can have on his play. The Vikings offensive line is average at best particularly in pass protection which should bode well for the Eagles front against Bradford.
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