The Vikings are undefeated heading into their week 7 clash with the Eagles and while their roster is incredibly intimidating..it lacks in one place that could chain the team down on Sunday, the Offensive Line..giving what could eventually turn into a big advantage to the Eagles.
The Vikings invested heavily in their Offensive line to try and fortify the main weakness on their roster, after the unit allowed 44 sacks on Teddy Bridgewater in 2015. Alex Boone and Andre Smith were signed to bolster the Line, but both Smith and Left Tackle Matt Kalil are out for the remainder of the season.
The injury problems don’t end there for the line however. After just five games, Mike Harris sits on injured reserve while guard Brandon Fusco sustained a concussion against the Texans.
Recent acquisition Alex Boone has also sustained an injury this season..leaving very few unscathed on the Line heading into what was a much needed Bye. But that doesn’t mean that the Line is miraculously fixed coming into their week 7 showdown with the Eagles.
Jeremiah Sirles has held down the fort at right tackle..but backup T.J Clemmings had a game against the Texans reminiscent of Vaitai’s debut a week ago, prompting the Vikings to bring in veteran free agent and former first overall pick, Jake Long.
A battered and bruised Offensive Line that is down to its bare bones will face an Eagles front seven that was frankly embarrassed against Washington just one week ago. Not only did the Eagles fail to sack Kirk Cousins, but they only hit him twice throughout the entire game.
The Jim Schwartz Defense will be fired up and looking to make a statement after such a shoddy performance..and the front four will no doubt play a huge role. So far, the Eagles have 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 22 quarterback hits. More impressively, the team have already had a Bye-week, making those stats even more intimidating.
The Vikings average just 2.5 yards per rushing play and until last week, the Eagles had been nothing but a brick wall against the run. The Vikings may look to try and rush the ball more after sniffing out weakness, but if McKinnon can’t push through the holes that will close up much faster than they did against the Texans, or Bradford can’t utilize Asiata as a pass-catcher..he’s going to be in for a long day.
Bradford knows this Defense well, but with a lack of chemistry and overall talent on what is once again a depleted Vikings Offensive Line, he will be fighting an uphill battle if the likes of Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham find their strides early.
Connor Barwin is set to see a slightly reduced role in order to aid production, which means his snaps will likely be passed down to Vinny Curry, the recently extended DE who has battled a knee injury through the opening stages of the season and now looks primed to make up for lost time.
The birds may be without Bennie Logan, who has been a driving force in the success of the Eagles front four early on, but it’s not the end of the world. Beau Allen already has 6 tackles after being rotated into all five of the games so far this season, while undrafted rookie Destiny Vaeao made a stern impact, forcing a fumble against the Bears.
Coming off of a shocking performance against Washington, the Eagles front four will be hungrier than ever to wreak havoc and stop Sam Bradford from exploiting the Eagles Defensive weaknesses..and with the tackle situation anything but stable, a heavy rotation of some of the most explosive Defensive Ends in the conference will no doubt cause more than a few problems for Bradford and the Vikings Offense..something that will be crucial if the Eagles are to end the Minnesota undefeated streak.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports