Five matchups the Eagles have to win in grudge match with Vikings

USATSI_13473066_168382939_lowres

We’re less than 24-hours away from gameday and the stakes are high. The 3-2 Eagles will travel to Minnesota to face an emerging rival who will undoubtedly hold a grudge about the last time the Birds flew over. With that in mind, here are the five matchups the Eagles have to dominate on Sunday.

Slot supremacy

Orlando Scandrick’s Eagles debut was the stuff of dreams. Stripping the ball from Luke Falk’s hands was one thing, taking it to the house for a ‘strip-six’ was something else. Scandrick was used frequently in blitz packages and was a huge cog in the dominant win, but this week, he faces a very different challenge.

Adam Thielen has developed into one of the league’s most dominant receiving threats and has 309 yards so far this season. He played more from the slot last week than he has all season and caught two touchdown passes in the process.

Scandrick is coming off of a year with a career-high 13 passes defensed, but faces a crisp route-runner coming off of his first 100-yard game of 2019. This matchup has scrappiness and fireworks written all over it.

Eagles OL vs Vikings DL

The Eagles offensive line has enjoyed a resurgence as of late after a bumpy start, but they now line up against a tenacious Vikings front consisting of some familiar faces.

Danielle Hunter already ranks second in team tackles and has five sacks to his name, while on the other end, Everson Griffen has 3 of his own.

That group ranks in the top 10 in both sacks and QB hits and have held opposing running backs to 3.73 yards per carry.

If the concerns about Wentz holding onto the ball too long are legitimate, then this matchup will be absolutely pivotal.

Flip the script

The Vikings have the league’s 24th ranked offensive line and are coming up against an Eagles group that rallied to ten scintillating sacks last week. Now, that production won’t be emulated, but Kirk Cousins likes to get the ball out fast and did exactly that against the Eagles in their win last week, taking full advantage of the off-coverage looks presented.

Cousins may have a worrying record against teams with winning records, but if the Eagles are unable to funnel Dalvin Cook’s runs (more on that shortly) and get in the face of the former Redskin, then they’re bound to endure a lot of passes underneath with YAC potential for Diggs, Thielen and their leading receiver…Dalvin Cook.

The Eagles defensive line should be high on confidence right now and they have to carry this into Minnesota if the team stand any chance of slowing them down.

The world vs Dalvin Cook

Ice, meet fire.

46.6% of Minnesota’s offensive yardage has been gained on the ground, the highest rate in the league. The Eagles yardage allowed is comprised of 18.9% from the ground…the second-lowest in the league.

Dalvin Cook leads the Vikings in rushing and receiving, is averaging 108 rushing yards per game and has a staggering 542 yards through 5 games. That last bit is key.

The Eagles may have an elite run defense, but open-field tackling has long been a concern and if there’s a back who’s going to punish that lack of consistency, it’s Cook. Screens, dumps, option routes, wheel-routes, you name it, Cook can, and will run it against the Eagles.

Stopping Cook won’t be easy, but if the defensive line has any chance in making life hellish for Kirk Cousins, the rest of the defense has to find a way to do exactly that.

Rhodes Closed

Alshon Jeffery and Xavier Rhodes have had some enticing matchups in the past. Jeffery got the better of him in the NFC Championship game, Rhodes returned the favor one year later. Honors were also even when Jeffery was a Chicago Bear.

Without DeSean Jackson, Wentz will seemingly rely on his WR1 and Zach Ertz, but Jeffery was blanketed and nullified against the Jets and the Eagles can’t afford to let that happen against a true lockdown corner.

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites