Murphy: Eagles pass rush could spark surprise win Sunday

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Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) is sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers on Sept. 18, 2016.

At first glance, the Eagles would seem to be a massive underdog this week against the undefeated Vikings, who are coming off a bye week after a start to the season that has included big wins over the Packers, Panthers and Texans. If the Eagles couldn’t block the Redskins, how will they withstand one of the most tenacious defenses in the NFL?

It’s a valid question, but don’t be surprised if this ends up being one of those weeks that leaves you wondering how you can ever make sense of the NFL. The reality is, the Eagles might match up against the Vikings better than any team Minnesota has faced thus far. Maybe not on the offensive side of the ball, where Doug Pederson is going to have to get a little more creative in protecting Carson Wentz, but certainly on the defensive side.

While Sam Bradford has played well this season, he also has been pummeled by some relatively lackluster front sevens. Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both on injured reserve, and guard Brandon Fusco is questionable with a concussion. The Vikings have averaged just 2.5 yards per rush this season, and two of their biggest open-field playmakers have some injury concerns (Stefon Diggs with a groin, and Cordarrelle Patterson with a hip). 

All of this is to say that there is a reason that Vegas opened the Vikings as a 2.5-point favorite and the total at over/under 40 points. Go back to the Vikings’ performance over the Panthers in Week 3, and you could easily see how a repeat might go in the Eagles’ favor. Cam Newton absorbed eight sacks and threw three interceptions in that game, yet the Panthers lost only 22-10.

This one has all the makings of a 17-13 affair in which a special-teams or defensive touchdown makes the difference. Yes, the Eagles need to figure out a way to protect Carson Wentz. But based on what we’ve seen through six weeks of the season, I’m not sure that I’d rather be Sam Bradford on Sunday. 

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