The Eagles embraced the underdog mentality last week and fended off the Falcons with a 15-10 Divisional Round triumph to earn a spot in the NFC Championship game. After a final moment miracle, it is the number two-seeded Vikings who come to town for the 6:40 pm matchup on Sunday night. Can the Eagles earn a Super Bowl 52 birth in front of the home fans? Here is the crew’s predictions for the game:
TYLER EDGERTON (14-3)
Throw all the stats you heard about this matchup out the window. Sure the Vikings have a better defense statistically. Sure the last five teams to beat Matt Ryan in the playoffs won the week after. But history doesn’t mean anything this Sunday. This game, (as it often does) comes down to the offensive and defensive lines.
While these top defenses will keep the game low scoring, it is up to the pass rush to get home for both teams. With little running room to be had, mixed with low 3rd down conversion rates, the Vikings defense does not create as much pressure in the front of opposing QB faces. It’ll be interesting to see how Case Keenum (who was 2-8 against the blitz last week) will handle the pressure, and if Nick Foles can extend the play or get the ball out quickly.
Even though I believe the Eagles have a very, VERY good chance to win this game, I picked against them last week and I was proven wrong. So, for the reader, I will do the same this week hoping the opposite occurs.
Final Prediction: Eagles 17, Vikings 20
MATTHEW SCOTT (14-3)
Two weeks in a row as underdogs. That’s the way the team and the fans seem to like it. With the Vikings off to Philly after a miraculous finish, the Eagles prepare for a well-balanced team coming in. All stats and personnel slightly favor Minnesota, and the defense is the big key for Sunday’s game. We know what both offenses are capable of at times. The biggest threat for the Eagles is Jay Ajayi while on the other side it’s the speedy receivers of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. All and all, the Vikings are less of an opponent compared to the Falcons and I have the Birds coming out on top. Philadelphia advances to the Super Bowl, winning on a final field goal winner by Jake Elliot.
Final Prediction: Eagles 16, Vikings 14
JOE FABIANI (14-3)
The Eagles head into the NFC Championship this week to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, that’s right, the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! It has been a long time since the atmosphere in this city was so electric. All year this team has been doubted and responded positively to the criticism. That shouldn’t be any different today as they are head into this matchup as a home underdog yet again.The Birds will be facing a Vikings team who has the best defense in the league. However, Minnesota has been a significantly different defense on the road allowing almost 20 points per game as opposed to 12 at home.
I believe this game will be a battle of the big man. The offensive and defensive line battles are what will decide this game. Look for the Eagles to be aggressive in attacking Case Keenum who last week showed the blitz forced him to look skittish. If the Eagles can come out and continue to play aggressively in all three phases, they should come out victorious.
Final Prediction: Eagles 21, Vikings 17
TYLAR POMROY (13-4)
If the Eagles want to win this game the offense needs to be able to stay on the field. Based on recent performances, Nick Foles should look more confident throwing the ball but one poor throw or handoff could be a gamechanger in a matchup like this. Fumbling the ball was an issue last week against a defense much worse than Minnesota’s. Philadelphia’s defense may have won every game since Foles took over and this will be the case once again. Expect this to be a low-scoring game overall with a handful of turnovers between both teams. The Eagles defense has to put pressure on Keenum early on for this to be the case. That Keenum-to-Thielen connection will only be a problem if our coverage isn’t consistent. If the Eagles want to win this game they must together long scoring drives and control the clock. The Eagles have both the underdog and home-field advantages going for them but the offense needs to be consistent for this team to make the Super Bowl.
Final Prediction: Eagles 19, Vikings 17 (Eagles miss PAT)
JOHN PURIFICATO (13-4)
The city is abuzz with the Eagles winning their first playoff game since 2008, and are now one win away from the Super Bowl. Coming to town are the Vikings who are riding the most shocking win in playoff history and lead by the most unlikely of heroes in Case Keenum. The Vikings offense may have the best 1-2 punch in Diggs and Theilen and have a solid running attack to go with it. But let’s make no bones about it, where the Vikings flourish is on defense.They can pressure the QB with their double A-gap blitzes and can also produce pressure with a four-man rush. Their shut down corner in Xavier Rodes is one of the best in the NFL.
The Eagles key to a victory is third down. The defense must get off the field and the offense to extend drives, moving the chains on third down and ending the drive with points. Look for the Eagles to run some different formations to throw off Zimmer’s defense. I think the Eagles home field advantage is their greatest weapon, and the Eagles and the fans come through again. The Eagles fly past the Vikings for a date with destiny.
Final Prediction: Eagles 20, Vikings 13
Brett Santos (10-7)
With a chance to go to the Super Bowl on the line, the Eagles and Vikings matchup is extremely intriguing. The Eagles come in as well-documented home underdogs to Vikings, but literally, anything can happen in January. Due to all the noise and excitement, Case Keenum and the entire Minnesota offense will be rattled early on. The Minnesota run game will be completely shut down and it will be in Keenum’s hands all game. The same is likely for Nick Foles and the Philadelphia offense as the Vikings defense has been the best unit in football all year and the Eagles have yet to experience anything similar to them.
Expect a lot of battling for field position early in the game with the punters playing important roles. Touchdown opportunities will be left on the field often and field goals will be prevalent. I see the result of the game ultimately going in favor of whoever wins the turnover battle. The Eagles fumbled the ball far too often last week and will lose if they make the same mistakes against the Vikings.
It is going to be a defensive battle all game long, but each offense has its share of dynamic weapons. I see offensive ball movement being somewhat reliant on the big play and the ground game being shut down for both sides. With the help of the home crowd and the mentality of this football team, I believe the Eagles clean up mistakes they made last week and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Final Prediction: Eagles 16, Vikings 13
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