The Vikings could have a tough time establishing a ground game against the NFL’s No. 1 run defense. This one could fall to Kirk Cousins making the kinds of big plays at home that he did against the Eagles last October in Philadelphia. Playing in the comfort of U.S. Bank Stadium, give the Vikings the edge.
TWO BIG STORY LINES
Vikings try to beat a winner
The Vikings’ only victory over a team with a winning record (at the time of the game) last season came against the Dolphins in December, and their only victory over an eventual playoff team was when they beat the Eagles in Philadelphia last October. The presence of the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense might necessitate a big game from Cousins, who’s 5-27 in his career against teams with winning records.
Wentz gets to play close to home
When the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018, it was a bittersweet moment for North Dakota State product Carson Wentz, whose torn ACL prevented him from playing for a championship in the stadium closest to his home state. On Sunday, the Bismarck, N.D., native will get to start in Minneapolis, in a game that figures to bring a decent complement of North Dakotans to the Twin Cities … assuming the weather out west improves.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings RT Brian O’Neill vs. DE Brandon Graham
The 31-year-old Graham leads the Eagles with three sacks this season and will present a tough challenge for O’Neill — to this point the Vikings’ best offensive lineman. Graham has been the Eagles’ best pass rusher for years, and his speed off the edge will be a test, particularly if the Eagles employ the wide alignments they frequently use with Graham.
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery was the second receiver coach Mike Zimmer asked Rhodes to shadow, when the wideout was still with the Bears and Rhodes was in his second season with the Vikings in 2014. They could get a chance to renew their battles on Sunday, if Rhodes shadows Jeffery in their latest matchup.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
1 Times in their past 10 games the Eagles have allowed an opponent to rush for more than 100 yards. That happened in Philadelphia’s loss to the Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs last January.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
They can find ways to get Dalvin Cook the ball, even if they’re not able to run effectively, and hold up effectively against one of the more disruptive defensive fronts they’ll face all season. The Vikings could find some big plays if Cousins has time to throw and trusts himself to pull the trigger.
THE EAGLES WILL WIN IF…
They’re able to get an early lead, force the Vikings into situations where they have to make tough throws on third-and-long and turn red zone trips into touchdowns, not field goals. The Eagles have the NFL’s fifth-best red zone offense; the Vikings are No. 5 in the league in red zone defense.
Goessling's Prediction: Vikings, 20-17
Win Probability 60%