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It’s championship weekend, the penultimate round of the NFL playoffs. The winners this weekend will go on to represent their respective conference in Superbowl 52. The NFC side has a bit of intrigue added. Minnesota is the host city for the big game, and could be the first team in history to make it to the bowl under that situation. The Eagles have not been to the Superbowl since the 39th edition and are trying to win their first title in the modern era.
Keys To The Game
Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson has shown us he will implement plays for Nick Foles to succeed. The RPO’s (run pass option) were used on a majority of his big plays in the divisional round. That trend should continue Sunday. The Eagles should not give Minnesota time to react on defense. No huddle and quickening the pace works well versus the Vikings. They should use short quick passes and attack underneath the secondary. This would be a good week for them to get some more screens with the wide receivers and running backs. The Eagles’ rushing attack was tops in the league, but this will be the best rush defense they’ve faced. They should force the issue on the ground. Keep pounding it, maybe not back to back plays, but they shouldn’t be discouraged after minimal gains.
The Eagles will have their hands full with the Vikings’ rushing attack. They should stay away from over pursuit on the ground. The Eagles are massive upfront and do a good job at applying pressure without blitzing much. Keeping the backfield crowded with players will neutralize both the pass and run games. They have to watch the deep pass, more importantly the yards after the catch. Even if a pass is completed, they need to make the hits count and finish the tackle.
The Vikings’ offense finished off the game with a wild ending you couldn’t draw up. They should attack the Eagles’ secondary as much as possible. The Vikings’ wide receivers should be able to win one on one matches vs the Eagles secondary, the problem is time. Minnesota has to give Case Keenum time in the pocket using an extra back or tight end to block. Forcing Philadelphia to send extra guys will leave open passes but you’ve got to beat them when it’s there. The Eagles have the toughest run defense there is but that shouldn’t deter the Vikings from running. They too should keep pounding away and not abandon the run. The Eagles will have an answer for the run game, but Minnesota should keep asking the question as much as possible. You will need some semblance of a run game to set up play action passes, which is another way you can hit them deep.
The x-factor for Philadelphia is Jalen Mills. He will be matched up against one of the Vikings’ prize wide receivers. If he can take his man out the game, it will make the Eagles defense look way tougher (yikes).
The x-factor for Minnesota is Jerick McKinnon. His ability to catch out of the backfield will help keep Philadelphia’s pass rush at bay and set up bigger plays downfield.
Prediction: This should be a tough game, hard fought game between evenly matched teams. This will be Minnesota in a close one, 27-23.