On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles were able to prevail over the Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoff game, while the Vikings defeated the Saints on an incredible last second play to win the game. Both teams bring great defenses into this matchup and questions at the QB position. Who will win the game and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? Kickoff inside Lincoln Financial Field is at 6:40 PM ET.
Coming into this matchup, the Eagles and Vikings have played 26 times with both teams winning 13 games apiece. The Eagles hold a 3-0 record against Minnesota in the playoffs. Philly also has a 9-6 all-time record at home against the Vikings. The Eagles have won 7 out of the last 8 home games against Minnesota and 5 of the last 7 overall meetings.
The Vikings finished the regular season with the same record as the Eagles at 13-3. They were 6-2 on the road and went into the playoffs as the #2 seed in the NFC. Minnesota had a spectacular victory against the Saints this past weekend as they completed a 61 yard touchdown pass on the last pay of the game to get the victory. Minnesota is favored to win their playoff matchup and look to go into Philly and get the win.
The Eagles are the #1 seed in the NFC and are an underdog at home for the second playoff game in a row. They feature one of the league’s top defenses and posted a 7-1 record at home during the regular season. At 13-3, Philly soared into the top spot, but was derailed by a season ending injury to their QB Carson Wentz. Nick Foles took over and helped the team stay afloat. Foles was able to manage the game last weekend against the Falcons and allowed that defense to win the game for the Eagles. Can he repeat his performance against the NFL’s best defense?
The spread opened with the Vikings favored by 3.5 points and the Over/Under at 38 total points.
All season long, the Vikings and the Eagles were the two best teams in the NFC. So, it’s fitting that they battle it out for the conference championship. We could easily sit here and speculate who would actually win if each team had their full squad, but what would be the point? The teams aren’t making excuses and neither will I.
If the Vikings can beat a HOF QB in Drew Brees then I believe they can easily handle Nick Foles. And, that’s why I pick them to win the game and cover the 3.5 point spread. Minnesota has the balance on both sides of the ball to win this game.
Against the Saints, the Vikings held New Orleans below their season averages of total yards and total points per game. Additionally, Minnesota forced 2 turnovers, had more first downs and won the time of possession battle. And, this was against one of the NFL’s best offenses. The Eagles offense, without Wentz, is not even in the same class as the Saints offense and the Vikings defense will shut them down.
Against the Falcons, Philly put up 15 points and totaled 334 yards against an Atlanta defense that’s not nearly as good as the Vikings. I don’t see the Eagles scoring much more than 15 on Minnesota. Foles had a nice game against Atlanta going 22 of 30 for 246 yards, but this weekend he will face a defense that’s one of the best against the pass. Additionally, he’s going up against the NFC’s best corner in Xavier Rhodes, who will shut down the Eagles top receiver – Alshon Jeffery. This will force Philly to try and run the ball more, but that won’t be successful either as the Vikings have one of the best run defenses in the league. They proved it against the powerful Saints rushing attack by holding them to just 80 yards on 24 carries. Yes, Brees was able to throw for 294 yards, but he did get sacked twice, throw 2 picks, and he’s a HOF QB. Foles is not even close to Brees and he will not be able to win this game for Philly. The Falcons held Philly to 96 rushing yards on 32 carries and I see the Vikings doing the same.
On the offense, Case Keenum proved against the Saints that he can win a football game on a big stage. Keenum threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown. However, he will be going up against a Philly defense that’s better than the Saints. So, Minnesota will have to fight for every yard this weekend. The Vikings did put up 95 rushing yards on 29 carries with 2 rushing touchdowns. But, they’re going up against the league’s number 1 rush defense, which held the explosive Falcons rushing attack to just 86 yards.
So, this game all comes down to which quarterback can make plays against a top tier defense: Foles or Keenum. I believe Keenum has proved all season long that he’s a gritty QB that wins games. His stellar play all year is the reason why Minnesota has made it this far. I believe he can outplay Foles this weekend and lead the Vikings to a 20-16 victory.
Minnesota was 11-5 ATS this season, 8-4 ATS this year as a favorite, 8-4 ATS versus NFC opponents, and 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games against the NFC East division. Philly is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a SU win and they’re 7-14 ATS in their last 21 games where they’re a home underdog of 3.5 to 7 points. This year, Philly went 0-2 ATS when they were an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points.
I believe this is Minnesota’s game to lose. With that last second win against the Saints, it seems like Minnesota is destined to go to the Super Bowl. Keenum will outplay Foles down the stretch. Both QB’s will struggle this game and turn the ball over, but Keenum will make more plays when it counts. I don’t see either team cracking 100 yards rushing the ball, so this game will come down to which offense can get the most 3rd-and-short distance downs and the most first downs.
I believe Minnesota has what it takes to grind out a victory. They’re confident in both Keenum and winning low scoring defensive battles. Philly isn’t nearly as confident in Foles. I believe he showed his max potential against the Falcons and I don’t see that being enough to beat the Vikings this weekend. Minnesota wins this game 20-16 and heads to the Super Bowl.