Here is what we will be keeping our eyes on during the Eagles-Vikings game Sunday night:
1. Nowhere to run. While the Eagles continue to struggle against the pass, they’ve got the run defense part down pat. They held Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to 3.2 yards per carry Sunday and have held their last 10 opponents to 3.8 yards per carry and 89.1 yards per game. They’ve allowed just 18 runs of 10 yards or more in those 10 games. Regardless of whether Adrian Peterson plays or not Sunday, the key to stopping the Vikings’ offense will be stopping the run.
2. Turnover machine redux. For the second straight week, the Eagles have the distinction of facing the league leader in giveaways. Last week it was the Giants. This week it’s the Vikings putting on the Santa Claus suit. The Vikings have 35 turnovers, including 10 in the last 3 games. They have a league-worst minus-14 turnover differential. The Eagles are second in the league in takeaways with 32 and are 8-1 when they win the turnover battle.
3. Surfing the Webb. Brett Favre suffered a concussion last week and still can’t remember who Jenn Sterger is. So he isn’t expected to play this week. Which means rookie Joe Webb likely will be making his first NFL start. It’s safe to assume that Sean McDermott will be opening a lot of blitz packages the day after Christmas. I see a couple of interceptions in Asante Samuel’s stocking.
4. Pass or fail. The Vikings’ secondary seems ill-equipped to deal with the Eagles’ vertical passing game, particularly in a short week. They were down to 2 healthy safeties in the second half Monday night and have just one cornerback – Antoine Winfield – that Leslie Frazier really has any faith in. Oh, and did I mention they’re 26th in the league in sacks per pass play?
5. Bounce-back game for Dimitri. Cornerback Dimitri Patterson had a rough game against the Giants. Gave up 3 touchdown passes in the first half. He played much better in the second half and had an important fumble recovery that set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. But he’s going to be picked on again Sunday night.
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