Eagles-Vikings preview

Recent history: The teams last met Jan. 16, 2005, with the host Eagles defeating the Vikings, 27-14, to advance to the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings lead the series, 11-10.

OFFENSE

Eagles

349.3 yards per game (8th)

Vikings

315.5 yards per game (23rd)

Quarterback

Eagles: Donovan McNabb has been the main culprit in the Eagles' red-zone problems. He's completed just 41 percent of his passes inside the 20. He's been erratic with his accuracy and continues to have trouble adjusting to his reduced mobility, often holding the ball too long.

Vikings: Tarvaris Jackson fractured the index finger on his throwing hand last week, but is expected to play. With just six NFL starts, he's still a deer in the headlights. He's got a league-worst 48.7 passer rating and averaged just 3.79 yards per attempt vs. Dallas last week.

PICK: EAGLES

Running back

Eagles: The Vikings are tough to run against, holding opponents to 3.0 yards per carry. The Cowboys were the first team this season to rush for more than 100 yards against them. Brian Westbrook's greatest impact in this game likely will come outside as a receiver.

Vikings: Adrian Peterson has been everything the Vikings had hoped. The rookie, who leads the league in rushing with 670 yards, has a rare blend of speed and power. Brad Childress is trying not to overwork him, rotating him with Chester Taylor. He's averaged 14.6 carries in the last three games.

PICK: VIKINGS

Receiver

Eagles: The offense has been hurt by the absence of tight end L.J. Smith. Through six games, tight ends have just 17 catches for 144 yards and one TD compared to 30-474-4 a year ago. Smith's absence has been particularly felt in the red zone, where the Eagles have just six TDs in 20 opportunities.

Vikings: Vikings don't really have a proven No. 1 wideout. Troy Williamson is their best vertical threat, and is averaging 17.7 yards per catch, but has undependable hands. Rookie Sidney Rice is a big target (6-4), but has just one catch in the last two games.

PICK: EAGLES

Offensive line

Eagles: Eagles used a lot of tight formations last week against the Bears, but probably will spread the field more against the Vikings to give C Jamaal Jackson and the rest of the interior line better angles to block the Vikings' two mammouth DTs, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.

Vikings: The Vikings need to be able to run the ball to take the pressure off their young quarterback. Most of their rushing success has come behind LG Steve Hutchinson and LT Bryant McKinnie. Former Eagle Artis Hicks has been replaced at RG by more aggressive Anthony Herrera.

PICK: EVEN

DEFENSE

Eagles

308.2 yards per game (11th)

Vikings

359 yards per game (26th)

Defensive line

Eagles: DTs Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley have done a good job against the run, but haven't been able to get much inside push, which has allowed opposing quarterbacks to step up in the pocket and avoid the outside rush. Eagles have had just one sack in two of the last three games.

Vikings: Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are one of the league's best DT tandems. They are a disruptive force inside and complement each other well. At 6-5, 311, Kevin has unusual speed and athleticism, while the 6-3, 317-pound Pat is a hard-to-budge space-eater.

PICK: VIKINGS

Linebacker

Eagles: Jim Johnson likely will come with a heavy dose of run blitzes in an attempt to disrupt the Vikings' zone-blocking schemes and get to Adrian Peterson before he can attack the line of scrimmage. Eagles have recovered just three fumbles in six games, none by their LBs.

Vikings: This is an active, aggressive unit that flies to the ball and makes plays. MLB E.J. Henderson is the team's leading tackler. WLB Chad Greenway missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, but has come back strong and can make plays sideline to sideline.

PICK: VIKINGS

Secondary

Eagles: This unit's biggest challenge won't come against the pass, but against the run. They are going to get a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor and need to do a good job in run support and keep big plays to a minimum.

Vikings: Both corners, Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin, are tough, physical players who will try to jam the wideouts at the line. Winfield is only 5-9 and 180 pounds, but is the best tackling cornerback in the league. FS Dwight Smith probably will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.

PICK: EAGLES

Special teams

Eagles: The Eagles have gotten little from their return game this season. They are 24th in punt-return average (7.1) and 28th in kick returns (21.2). P Sav Rocca is 29th in gross average (41.0) and 23rd in net average (36.4).

Vikings: Adrian Peterson has been the Vikings' primary kickoff returner the last three games and is averaging 29.1 yards per return in that time. The punt-coverage unit is exploitable. They're ranked 27th (12.2). PK Ryan Longwell had a 48-yard field-goal attempt blocked last week vs. Dallas.

PICK: EVEN

Hot and not

Hot

Eagles: DE Trent Cole. Has team-high seven sacks in six games.

Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson. Leads the league in rushing and is averaging 28.5 yards per kickoff return.

Not

Eagles: S Sean Considine. Gave up the game-winning touchdown in loss to Bears.

Vikings: QB Tarvaris Jackson. Has a league-worst 48.7 passer rating. Averaged 3.79 yards per attempt vs. Cowboys.

Key Matchups

1. Eagles WLB Takeo Spikes vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: Peterson leads the NFL in rushing. Spikes is nursing a sore shoulder. Advantage: Peterson

2. Eagles RG Shawn Andrews vs. Vikings DT Pat Williams: Williams anchors the league's fourth-ranked run defense. Andrews is a Pro Bowl road-grader. Advantage: Andrews

3. Eagles RDE Trent Cole vs. Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie: Cole is the Eagles' top pass rusher with seven sacks. Advantage: Even

What we're watching

Five keys that fans should be keeping their eyes on:

1. Yo, Adrian. The top job of the Eagles' defense will be to contain the Vikings' outstanding rookie running back, Adrian Peterson. Peterson, who has a jaw-dropping blend of speed and power, leads the league in rushing (670 yards, 6.2 yards per carry), even though he's only averaging 18 carries per game.

2. The Dead Zone. The Eagles' offense has been absolutely inept inside the 20. They are ranked 30th in the league in red-zone production, ahead of only the pitiful Falcons and the equally pitiful Rams. They've converted just six of 20 red-zone opportunities into TDs. Take out the Detroit game and they're 2-for-15. QB Donovan McNabb is 14 for 37 inside the 20.

3. Brother, Can You Spare A Turnover? The Eagles have just eight takeaways in six games. Only three teams - the Saints, Dolphins and Jets - have fewer. They didn't have any takeaways Sunday against the Bears and have had more than one in just two games (two vs. Packers, three vs. Lions).

4. Westbrook the Receiver. Brian Westbrook is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, but he'll be going up against a Vikings defense that had held opponents to a measly 3.0 yards per carry. Chances are he's going to make a much bigger splash as a receiver this week than a ballcarrier.

5. QB Pressure. The Eagles' pass rush has run hot and cold, lately mostly cold. They've got just five sacks in the last three games, and couldn't get pressure on the Bears' Brian Griese on that 97-yard game-winning drive last week, even though they blitzed on five of the 11 plays. Defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson are playing the run well, but getting no push against the pass.

Domo's prediction

Vikings 17, Eagles 16