In a rematch of the NFC Championship Game from two seasons ago, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 13 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Fans in several markets across the country can watch the game on Fox.
Based on the Week 6 NFL odds, the Vikings are 3-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 44 points.
After an up and down start to the season, the Vikings finally earned their first road win of the season last week, knocking off the Giants 28-10 to get to 3-2 on the season. Unfortunately, that record has them at the bottom of the NFC North standings. That division is turning out to be one of the best in the NFL this season, putting the Vikings in a position in which almost every game is a must-win for them.
Fortunately, Minnesota will return to the friendly confines of U.S. Bank Stadium this week. The Vikings have won both of their home games this season by double digits, albeit against the Falcons and Raiders. However, this is just one of two games the Vikings have between now and mid-November, so they need to take advantage.
As for the Eagles, they’ve bounced back from a 1-2 start to win back-to-back games and climb to 3-2, putting them in a tie with the Cowboys atop the NFC East. Of course, Philadelphia wasn’t all that impressive last week in a 31-6 win over the Jets. The defense did a lot of the heavy lifting to give the Eagles their second victory of the season against a team that remains winless. On the bright side, they went on the road and beat the Packers a couple of weeks ago, so the Eagles have shown that they can win on the road.
That’s good news because the Eagles better get accustomed to playing on the road. This week’s game kicks off a string of three straight road contests for Philly. That stretch includes a date with Dallas next week. However, the Eagles should be careful not to look past the Vikings.
Neither team is all that trustworthy at the moment, although both are coming off comfortable wins over bad teams. The Eagles, if nothing else, have an impressive road win over the Packers on their resume. Plus, their two losses have come by a combined seven points. That’s enough for me to take a chance on Philadelphia to at least beat the spread in a close loss.
Aside from their close losses and one road win, the thing that makes me favor the Eagles in this matchup is their run defense. The Philadelphia defense is among the best in the league at shutting down teams on the ground. Part of that is due to the Eagles facing both the Redskins and Jets early in the season. But even in their losses to the Falcons and Lions, the Philadelphia defense didn’t give up much on the ground. That’s important because I’m not sure the Vikings can win if they aren’t able to run the ball effectively.
Admittedly, stopping Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota rushing attack will be no easy task. Cook is averaging 108 yards per game and nearly six yards per carry. Backup Alexander Mattison is also gaining over five yards every time he touches the ball. However, the Bears kept Cook and Mattison contained when the Vikings only scored six points in Chicago two weeks ago, so it’s possible for a good run defense to slow down the Minnesota ground game.
Without Cook and the running game to carry the load, the Vikings will have to put their faith in Kirk Cousins, which may not be a winning recipe. Cousins has had his moments this season, including a strong performance last week against the Giants. The Philadelphia secondary is also a little banged up, so there could be opportunities to get Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs the ball. But Cousins is too inconsistent to trust to win a game on his own. In that loss to the Bears, he had just 233 yards passing on 36 attempts with no touchdowns. He’s also been sacked nine times over the last two games, so protection is becoming a problem.
In fairness, I still have some concerns about the Philadelphia offense. Carson Wentz hasn’t been at his best early in the season. But Jordan Howard has started to shine over the past few weeks to get the Philadelphia running game going. Wentz has also gone three straight games without throwing an interception. If this turns into a close, low-scoring game, I trust Wentz more than Cousins to avoid costly mistakes.
In the end, I have a hard time trusting Cousins based on his play early in the year. There’s a decent chance that the Vikings won’t be able to control the game with their rushing attack, putting a fair amount of pressure on Cousins. Even at home, that creates enough doubt in the Vikings for me to lean toward the Eagles.