NFL: Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
The Eagles come into week five 2-2 following a heartbreaking loss in OT to the Titans where the defense collapsed. Minnesota lost on Thursday night last week to the high-powered Los Angeles Rams. Here is a preview of their week five matchup:
A recap of the last time they faced each other:
The day was January 21, 2018, the Vikings came into Philly riding high after pulling off a miracle to beat the Saints while the Eagles had just barely beaten Atlanta in a game they were favored to lose as the one seed. Case Keenum drove the Vikings down on the first drive for a touchdown and it seemed as though the Vikings would ride Minneapolis magic all the way to the Super Bowl. Then, former Eagle, Patrick Robinson, intercepted Case Keenum and took it to the house for a pick-six, triggering 38 unanswered points as Philly moved on to the Super Bowl. While it’s an important story line coming into this game, I think it’s worth noting that both teams have upgraded quarterbacks since then. Hats off to Nick Foles, but he’s no Carson Wentz; and Kirk Cousins is an upgrade to Case Keenum. In their last nine matchups going back to 1997, the Eagles have won seven of those and Philly is a tough place to play. Either way, it’s a great matchup between two of the top teams in the NFC, despite what their records say.
Eagles notes for Week 5:
The secondary choked and a change needs to be made: With all due respect to Corey Graham, he is not a reliable option at free safety. Filling in for Rodney Mcleod Jr., Graham allowed a crucial 4th and 15 to be converted by the Titans on a play where Graham seemingly chose not to cover his man. It was a huge mental error that ended up costing them the game. Later on the Titans game-winning drive, Sidney Jones IV was called for defensive holding after the Titans pass was incomplete on 4th and 2. The only member of the Eagles secondary who played well in the game was Malcolm Jenkins, who had several key tackles on that drive. I said this last week and I’ll say it again: moving Jalen Mills to free safety and putting Sidney Jones IV on the outside is something the Eagles should attempt. If not Mills, putting Rasul Douglas, a backup corner, at safety could work since he played free safety in college. Either way, changes need to be made to the secondary.
The offensive line isn’t giving Carson Wentz enough protection: To be honest, the Eagles pass protection hasn’t been good all season. After allowing five sacks to the Colts in week three, the Eagles were not much better last week, allowing four sacks to the Titans. The offensive line itself hasn’t been horrible, and the run game has been pretty good, but the running backs and tight ends who help in protection have been ineffective. Wendell Smallwood is a pretty good and explosive runner, but he can’t block to save his life. At least three sacks from the last two weeks were a result of his missed blocks. When Darren Sproles gets back from injury, he should help in the blocking game.
* As of Friday afternoon it was reported by Bleeding Green Nation that the Eagles are expected to replace Steven Wisniewski at left guard in favor of Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo came into the 2017 season as the starter but was replaced in week three by Wisniewski.
Vikings notes for week 5:
They’ve played better than their record says: If you were to tell me that after a quarter of the season, the Vikings would have the same record as the Browns and a worse record than Miami and Cincinnati, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, the Vikings record really doesn’t tell the whole story. After winning week one, the Vikings tied the Packers. Had Daniel Carlson made his 35 yard attempt as time expired, they would have gone to 2-0. Then in week 3 they got blown out by the Bills after they came in favored by 17. No doubt there’s no good way to look at that game for the Vikings, so that’s a loss. Then last week, they matched up against the LA Rams, arguably the best team in the NFL. They played pretty well but ultimately lost in a shootout 38-31. With a little better luck, Minnesota could be 3-1 and shouldn’t be looked down upon based on their early season record.
Their run game has been ineffective: As I’m writing this on Friday night, it has not been announced whether or not Dalvin Cook will play, although it seems unlikely given that he didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. Coming off a torn ACL he suffered in week five last season, Cook has been very ineffective to start the year. Having played three of the Vikings four game so far, Cook has carried the ball 36 times for just 98 yards, an abismal 2.7 YPC average. As a team, they are averaging just 3.5 YPC which ranks 30th in the NFL. If Cook can’t play on Sunday, Latavius Murray will likely get an increased amount of playing time.
X Factor for the Eagles and Vikings week 5 matchup: Jalen vs Stefon Diggs
I’ve noted many times throughout this season that Jalen Mills has had a slow start to the campaign. Through the first quarter of the season, Mills has allowed a 75% catch rate, 2 touchdowns, and a 147.7 passer rating. Not good! Diggs has been solid to start the year with 27 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Also, he loves the double-move and go route, one that killed Mills all of last season and ultimately may have cost him a Pro Bowl appearance. Here is a video of him getting burned by Amari Cooper for a touchdown on that route last year:
This matchup is definitely one to keep your eyes on as it will definitely affect the outcome of this game.
Who will this week 5 matchup:
In short, I have the Eagles covering a 3.5 spread in Philly this week to beat the Vikings. Believe it or not, the Vikings have beaten the Eagles in Philly just once since the start of the 1986 season, when Ron Jaworski was at the back end of his career and Randall Cunningham was a young prospect. The Vikings defense has not been great since week one and I think this is a very favorable matchup for Carson Wentz. The Eagles secondary is obviously a major concern but I think their offense will be able to overcome it.
Final Score: Eagles 34, Vikings 28
I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview and come back next week for a preview of the Eagles-Giants week six matchup on beatthebooks.net