Eagles-Vikings Game Features Kendricks vs. Kendricks

Plus: What's the dilemma over in Fargo?

Mychal Kendricks. (USA TODAY Sports)

Mychal Kendricks. (USA TODAY Sports)

As the Eagles prepare to welcome back Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon, let’s take a look at some of the best Eagles links from around the web this week.

Sunday will mark the first time that Mychal Kendricks and his brother, Eric Kendricks, will play against each other, from Tim McManus of ESPN.com.

Sunday will be the first time, then, that the two ever officially have played one another, and it’s a pretty big deal. Mychal said he was holding about 40 tickets to accommodate the friends and family who are coming to Philadelphia for Eagles-Vikings. His dad laughed as he said that the number needed had jumped to 55. Some family members are staying with Mychal, others are renting a row home in Center City.

“I am truly blessed,” said Marvin [Kendricks]. “I mean, how many times has somebody had two boys in the NFL? I know there’s a few people out there, but it’s a real blessing from God. And they’re good kids, so that makes it even better. People ask me the same question: who am I going to cheer for? And it’s a very simple answer: I just say defense.”

Yvonne [Thagon] takes the same approach. She roots for health first and good stats for her boys second. Beyond that, she’s just happy to have both of her sons in the same city, if only for a day or two.

“We don’t get holidays together. We haven’t in a long time,” she said.. “You asked me to send pictures, I just don’t have pictures of them anymore together. Not very many. So when we get the opportunity, the camera is clicking. I’ve got pictures of all of us separated, three of us and three of us, my daughter, myself and one of the boys, but all four of us together is very rare.”

NFL.com’s Shaun O’Hara will keep a close eye on the Eagles’ offensive line this week, especially due to what happened last week against the Redskins.

One of the biggest trades in the NFL in the last decade (maybe even history) sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota, and now he returns to the City of Brotherly Love to face his most recent former team. Call it the ex-girlfriend game. His team is undefeated and well rested, but the story will surely revolve around the new kid on the block Carson Wentz. The high flying Eagles came back down to Earth after suffering their second straight defeat but more significant, they failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season and registered season lows in every offensive category.

Questions are aplenty when looking at the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, who boast the No. 1 scoring defense (12.6 points per game) and the NFL’s best turnover differential — both comparable to the 1985 Bears in the first quarter of the season. While Philly leads the NFL in time of possession, the Vikings have the fourth-best run defense. Staying on the field will be a challenge for the Eagles’ offense.

The biggest question is can the Eagles’ offensive line protect Wentz? It’s something the group struggled to do last week in Washington when he was sacked five times — only three attributed to OL). Vikings are tied for third in sacks (19) and are one of only two teams to have three or more players with at least four sacks (Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter). Pressure will be on rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who is making his second start at right tackle for the suspended Lane Johnson, as he gave up a pair of sacks last week and one QB hit.

Former NFL Executive Michael Lombardi of FoxSports.com talks about some of the big things to watch for in Sunday’s game.

3. Will Carson Wentz be forced to throw left? Where Wentz wants to throw the ball is like the shot chart in basketball. Wentz loves to throw the ball right inside the numbers, and his accuracy dips when he’s forced to throw toward the left sideline.

7. Getting the lead in this game is equally vital for the Eagles. Philadelphia must force the Vikings to throw the ball more than 40 times so it can utilize its pass rushers.

10. The matchup to keep an eye on is Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (13 QB hurries) against Vikings left tackle T.J. Clemmings. Last week, the Redskins ran the ball effectively to the left against Philadelphia.  Running left will take the pressure off of Cummings to have to pass block.

Back in Fargo, North Dakota, some fans won’t be cheering for Carson Wentz’s team, according to Vikings beat reporter Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.

It’s a week of conflicted loyalties in Fargo, which is the home of one of the most dominant college football programs in America but still sits firmly in the middle of Vikings country. North Dakota State — the winner of the last five FCS national championships — packs the Fargodome on Saturdays, and Wentz’s popularity has only continued to climb since the Eagles traded up to take him second overall in the NFL draft in April. But while the state divides its allegiances between North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota, there is no such confusion for most North Dakotans about the NFL, where the Vikings reign supreme.

“[Fargo fans are] 95 percent Vikings rubes. The Bison are No. 2, generally speaking,” said Mike McFeely, a longtime sports columnist for the Fargo Forum who now also talks politics and sports on WDAY-AM in Fargo. “The Vikings are more popular across the board. If you look at the TV ratings and everything else, NDSU does well, but the Vikings are the king.”

The ideal scenario for many Fargoans this weekend, then? A solid showing for Wentz — and a Vikings win.

“Actually, it’s not that difficult,” wrote Jake Johnson, a North Dakota native and North Dakota State graduate. “Of course I want the Purple to win the game, and by a lot. I want to see Carson make the throws he is suppose to make, not get injured but not take over the game. Carson could easily win governor here if he ran — that’s how much this state backs him — but above that, this is the Vikings’ year. I want Carson to have a decent game, but the Vikes to win by 2-3 scores.”

Wentz is making sure he doesn’t get caught up in the storylines this week, writes Zach Berman of the Inquirer.

Sam Bradford’s return to Philadelphia makes for a ripe story line and will likely remain a popular discussion point into the broadcast on Sunday. But Wentz insisted that he won’t “get caught up in that.” Those who know both quarterbacks suggest it won’t be a factor; this is not an Aaron RodgersBrett Favre dynamic.

“I know both of their demeanors – I think Carson doesn’t care, and I think Sam cares even less,” wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. “To be honest, I don’t think it’s anything they’re even worried about. . . . Even when Carson came, that was the ultimate in let’s try to see if something happens with this friction. And there was no friction in the building when Sam and Carson were here. That’s just the type of guys they are. Both of them get to be the captains of the ships on two teams that are really competing in this league. I think the last thing they’re worried about are each other.”

Wentz clearly benefited from the decision to trade Bradford. What could have been a redshirt season instead put Wentz on the field from Week 1. That allowed the development that has excited Philadelphia to occur instead of having Wentz run the scout team and watch the game with a tablet on the sideline.

Even if the timing was not ideal for Bradford, he is now a starter for a playoff contender and is off to the best start of his career. That was why Eagles coach Doug Pederson labeled the trade a “win-win” – and he doesn’t want Sunday’s game to be viewed as a referendum on the deal, nor does he want Wentz to shoulder that burden.

“You know, there’s pressure every week,” Pederson said. “I get the fact that the trade happened. But our focus is within our building and the guys we have and getting our guys ready to play. I’m not going to put any added pressure on Carson. . . . I know there’s going to be a lot of peripheral stuff probably said or written about these two. Whoever plays or whoever wins, this one played better than that one, this and that and the other, and the decisions – and I get all that. But the decision has been made and [Carson] is our guy, and we’re going to get him ready to play each and every week.”

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com is intrigued by Bradford’s return and how the Eagles’ offensive line will respond.

1. Sam Bradford against the Philadelphia Eagles : The Eagles traded Bradford before the season and decided to play rookie Carson Wentz . For the first three weeks, it looked like the right decision. But a loss here and the Eagles would be .500 at 3-3 and the Minnesota Vikings would be undefeated and Bradford would be a big reason why.

2. Eagles offensive line vs. Vikings front: The Vikings have won with their defense and their pressure. They got Cam Newton eight times the last time they played on the road. The Eagles had issues last week at Washington and rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled. This could be a long day for Wentz.

The Vikings-Eagles matchup has the best chance to be a low-scoring game and one of the top games of the week, opines Brett Pollakoff of FoxSports.com.

Best chance for a low-scoring contest