5 matchups to watch when the Eagles battle the Vikings on Thursday Night Football

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Darius Slay (2) reacts after making an interception in the fourth quarter during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings will meet in Week 2 for the second consecutive season. Nick Sirianni’s team took care of business last season thanks to a 24-7 victory. The game was never really in question. The Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead and took their foot off the gas a bit after halftime.

One major difference this time around will be at defensive coordinator where the Vikings traded Ed Donatell for Brian Flores. The defense was supposed to be more aggressive and Flores put it all on display in Week 1 by bringing five or more rushers at the quarterback 18 times. Jalen Hurts is going to have to get the ball out quickly and take advantage of all the single coverage down the field if that trend continues in Week 2.

“You look at the personnel that is consistent. So, you’re always going to look at that, the personnel. Schemes are obviously very different,” Sirianni said of Flores taking the reins. “You do, you know where — like I said, a ton of respect for Coach Flores, and you look at where he’s been, you look at obviously the games that he’s coached for Minnesota, which hasn’t been many, as we know, where he’s been, Miami, and then also where his roots are from New England. So, you look at all those things.”

5 Key Matchups to Watch: Eagles vs. Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 11: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs to the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown reception during the second quarter of an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers on September 11, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

1. Darius Slay vs. Justin Jefferson: Redemption will be on Jefferson’s mind in this one after Slay dominated the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in Week 2 a year ago. Slay held Jefferson to one catch on six targets while recording two interceptions inside the red zone. Jefferson was visibly frustrated and finished with seven total yards. The Vikings will likely stay away from Slay and look to pick on Josh Jobe vs. Jordan Addison on the other side since James Bradberry has been ruled out. Addison caught four balls for 65 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

2. Haason Reddick vs. Vikings O-Line: Pick your poison. The Eagles are loaded along the defensive line. We’re singling out Reddick here because it just feels like he’s due following a quiet afternoon in Week 1. He recorded only one quarterback hit on 58 defensive snaps. Perhaps he is still recovering from thumb surgery. Either way, the Vikings own a banged-up offensive line which allowed seven pressures and a sack against Tampa Bay. Starting center Garrett Bradbury is out with a back injury. Look for Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis to feast on the interior.

3. T.J. Hockenson vs. Christian Elliss/Zach Cunningham: Nakobe Dean (foot) is not playing. That means the Vikings are going to try and get their talented tight end involved early and often against whatever linebackers the Eagles throw out there. Christian Elliss and Zach Cunningham are the expected starters. Both struggled in coverage last week versus New England. The Patriots exploited the middle of the field at will. Hockenson, a Pro Bowler in 2022, made eight catches for 35 yards last week on nine targets. Remember, the Eagles won’t have starting safety Reed Blankenship (ribs) to support.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown runs a route against the New York Giants during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

4. Byron Murphy Jr. vs. A.J. Brown: It’ll be interesting to see whether the Vikings put their top cornerback on Brown to start the game. Murphy was matched up mostly against DeVonta Smith when he faced the Eagles as a member of the Cardinals in 2022. However, Minnesota handed him good money — two years at $22 million — to be their shutdown guy. It stands to reason he would draw Brown in this one. Murphy saw 68 total snaps in Week 1 and surrendered five receptions on 36 coverage snaps (via Pro Football Focus).

5. D’Andre Swift vs. Nick Sirianni: Okay, we’re having some fun on this final matchup. Swift was a non-factor for the Eagles in the season opener as the team relied on Kenny Gainwell to carry the load. The pride of St. Joseph’s Prep figures to get meaningful touches in this one after Gainwell (ribs) was ruled out.

The question is, will Nick Sirianni allow him to handle a full workload? Or balance out his snaps alongside Rashaad Penny and Boston Scott? The head coach made no such promises during his media availability earlier this week when he reiterated that Swift’s role would vary from week to week. Swift has only averaged 8.9 carries per game for his career so he hasn’t been truly used as a workhorse back.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire