Week 5 of the NFL season brings us a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game as the Minnesota Vikings look for redemption against the Philadelphia Eagles. The game will kick off at 4:25 EST on Sunday, October 7, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Most of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the Eagles as 3-point favorites at home with an over/under of 44.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
Despite being the reigning Super Bowl champions, things have not come easy for the Eagles this year. They’ve lost both of their road games this season, including a 26-23 overtime loss to the Titans last week in a game they should have been able to close out. Even the two games they’ve won could have easily gone the other way, so the Eagles should feel a little lucky to be 2-2 heading into October.
After the sluggish start, the Eagles are one game behind Washington in the loss column, so they may end up having some competition for the top spot in the NFC East this year. On the plus side, quarterback Carson Wentz is back after missing the first two games of the season. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is also back from injury, so the Eagles are getting closer to being at full strength.
The Vikings have undergone similar woes early in the season. Minnesota won their season opener but have endured a tie and two losses since then. Heading into the season, the Vikings were expected to be Super Bowl contenders. However, they have not looked the part, particularly on defense, where they’ve given up 27 or more points in each of the last three weeks.
With a 1-2-1 record a month into the season, the Vikings have dug a tiny hole for themselves. After this week’s trip to Philadelphia, Minnesota’s schedule will get a little easier. However, a loss to the Eagles would mean a three-game losing streak, which is not something the Vikings would have expected to happen to them at the start of the season.
Neither team has been what we thought they’d be early in the season. But I think the Eagles are closer to getting there. The Eagles have also won both of their home games, so I think they’ll be more likely to bring their best effort this week. I’ll eat a few points and lean toward Philadelphia to cover the 3-point spread at home.
The one weakness the Eagles have displayed that concerns me the most is their offensive line. This unit has allowed 14 sacks in four games, including nine sacks in the two games since Wentz returned. Obviously, you don’t want your quarterback getting sacked that many times or taking as many hits as Wentz has taken in just two games. However, it’s even more important when your quarterback is coming back from a serious knee injury and is capable of playing at an MVP level when healthy.
The good news for the Eagles is that I’m not sure the Vikings will be able to take full advantage of that weakness this week. Everson Griffen was vital to Minnesota’s pass rush last season with 13 sacks. But he’s currently away from the team while he deals with personal issues. The Vikings aren’t quite as scary up front without him. That’s been evident the past couple of weeks with the Bills and Vikings scoring at will against them.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia offense appears close to having a breakout game. Wentz will play his third game of the season this week while Jeffery will play his second game. The Eagles also have tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert as steady contributors. The Philadelphia rushing attack has also been steady this year despite the problems with the offensive line. As Wentz gets more comfortable and gets his timing back, things should improve for the Eagles offensively.
On the other side of the ball, Kirk Cousins has played great, already tossing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has immediately clicked with receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, leading to an explosive passing attack.
However, Minnesota’s offensive line has also been a bit of a problem. The Vikings aren’t getting much on the ground, and it doesn’t help that Dalvin Cook is battling a hamstring injury. Cousins has also been sacked 13 times in four games. The Eagles should have the players along the defensive line to take advantage of a leaky offensive line.
In the end, I think the Eagles are more likely to put together a complete performance over four quarters than the Vikings. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to win in blowout fashion. But the Eagles have found ways to win close games at home this year. I’ll trust that they can do it again and manage to cover the 3-point spread.