Before we get to Tim and Sheil’s picks, here is the iTunes podcast link from Thursday night’s Birds 24/7 show on 97.5 The Fanatic.
Player I’ll be watching:
McManus: DeSean Jackson
The Vikings rank 30th in the NFL in pass yards allowed/game (282) and have yielded a league-high 29 touchdowns through the air. The Eagles’ passing attack has a chance to go off in this one.
Jackson is currently 10th among wide receivers in receiving yards (1,080). His 65 receptions are already a career high, and he needs just 77 yards to establish a personal best in that category.
The 27-year-old has played indoors seven times since 2010. He has gone over 100 yards in four of those games. This kind of fast track is perfect for his skill set.
Kapadia: Jason Peters
The Eagles’ left tackle has quietly put together an excellent season after missing all of 2012. He’ll get matched up against five-time Pro Bowler Jared Allen. Allen is 31, but he still has seven sacks and a pair of forced fumbles on the season.
The Vikings’ best chance of winning is to force turnovers defensively and make plays on special teams. The Eagles didn’t have to do much in terms of protecting the quarterback last week (given the snowy conditions), but Peters will have to keep Allen away from Nick Foles’ blind side on Sunday.
Prop bet of the week:
Minnesota turnovers — 2. Whaddya got?
McManus: I’ll try the over.
The Eagles have forced 12 turnovers over the course of their five-game win streak, an average of over two takeaways per game. They are currently sixth in the NFL with a plus-9 turnover margin. The Vikings have given the ball up 25 times, fifth-worst in the NFL.
Matt Cassel is expected to start at quarterback for the Vikings. He is 1-2 this season with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. With running backs Adrian Peterson (foot) and Toby Gerhart (hamstring) ailing, Minnesota may have to turn to third-stringer Matt Asiata, who has zero carries this year and only three lifetime. It could be a rough day for the Vikings’ offense.
Kapadia: One thing that the Eagles have going for them is that the defense is filled with high-energy/high-effort players. Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Cedric Thornton, DeMeco Ryans – those guys never take plays off, let alone entire games.
So I agree with you that the defense should have an edge against a banged-up, ineffective Vikings’ squad. But three takeaways in an environment where we know the weather is not going to be a major factor is a high number.
The Vikings’ offensive line is OK, and the Eagles might be playing with a hobbled Cary Williams (hamstring). So I’ll take the under.
McManus: Eagles 34, Vikings 17
Could this be a letdown situation? Sure. The Eagles are coming off a significant home win over Detroit, and have big games against Chicago and Dallas on the horizon. This one seems kinda sandwiched in-between, and a lot of fans are looking beyond this game towards bigger and better things.
There were no signs at the NovaCare this week indicating the team is doing the same. Chip Kelly has done a pretty good job of keeping the players focused on the day-to-day work. If they can get up for this game, the Eagles should win it pretty handily.
Kapadia: Eagles 27, Vikings 17
I thought it was very interesting that the day after LeSean McCoy set the franchise record in rushing yards, Kelly pointed out that the running back cut the wrong way on a fourth-quarter run that should have gone for 70 yards.
It was as if the head coach wanted to make one thing clear: We won a game in the snow. Great. Time to move on and get better.
This could be a letdown spot, but unless the Eagles just look like a complete disaster on special teams (which is possible), I see a double-digit win.