The Eagles (1-0) are hosing the Vikings (1-0) at the Linc on Monday night in their home opener.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (1-0)
I know one thing. If the Eagles play against the Vikings like they did against the Lions they’re not winning this game. There are a lot of trends that favor the Eagles. Kirk Cousins is 10-17 in his career in prime-time and 2-9 on Monday nights. The Vikings are 6-13 in their last 19 outdoor games and 2-16 in their last 18 outdoor games against winning teams. It’s a game the Eagles should win, but until I see this defense make plays against a good quarterback I can’t pick them. That was a pathetic performance Sunday in Detroit. After all the roster additions and all the talk about upgraded pass pressure and more playmaking to allow 35 points to a team that had scored 35 points twice in the last four years? To miss 15 tackles? To allow five 70-yard touchdown drives? To nearly blow a 17-point second-half lead? Cousins may not be a great quarterback – he’s only won one playoff game in 10 seasons – but he’s a terrific passer, and his 98.8 passer rating is 5th-highest in history – behind only Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. If this defense doesn’t play significantly better, he and Justin Jefferson will tear them apart. And they have an elite running back as well in Dalvin Cook. I don’t see a win unless a lot of things change on the defensive side.
Vikings 33, Eagles 31
Dave Zangaro (1-0)
This is a tough game to figure out. On one hand, the Vikings have a pretty good roster and their weapons on offense are scary, especially after we watched the Eagles really struggle against the Lions last week. But the Vikings are coming off an emotional Week 1 win over the Packers and I sometimes wonder about teams coming off those types of games. As far as the Eagles’ defense goes, I was absolutely worried by what we saw in Week 1 but I still have confidence that unit will turn it around. There’s too much talent on that side of the ball for them not to.
And on offense, I have no reason to think the Eagles can’t duplicate their Week 1 success. The Vikings’ best players on defense are their two edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter. Well, I’ll still take the Eagles in that matchup with Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata. If the Eagles can keep Jalen Hurts clean and balance their attack, they have a chance to put up a lot of points again. This one should be close but I’m going with my gut here and giving the win to the home team on Monday Night Football.
Eagles 27, Vikings 24
Barrett Brooks (1-0)
Monday night under the lights! This is a measuring rod game for the defense. This will be an accurate assessment on whether the Birds invested enough talent on that side of the ball. The Vikings are full of talent offensively. The run game sets everything up and Dalvin Cook is such a special player. He has size, speed, explosiveness and elusiveness. The weak link on the Viking offense is the OL. If they get the run game going, it is easier for the offense to throw the deep passes to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins can light it up if he has protection. The easiest way to get protection is with play action. Play action also allows the OL to play more aggressively and gives extra protection using TEs and RBs. OC Wes Phillips orchestrated the game plan that allowed the record breaking connection between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, (145 catches, 1,945 yards, 16 TD.)
DC Jonathan Gannon will have his work cut out for him. How will he adjust to the scheme that shedded the Packers defense last week? No. 1, the DL has to come to work. The DL will have to stop the run. No. 2, the front four will have to get a great pass rush on Cousins and make him uncomfortable. I have no doubt that the secondary will be able to slow down Jefferson, but it all starts with the DL bringing it on Monday night.
Offensively, Jalen Hurts and the OL will come to play. The offense will be able to score with the run and the pass on the Vikings’ defense. The OL knows they didn’t play to their standard last week. Miles Sanders and Jordan Hicks will be my key matchup for the game. If Sanders has a big day, the offense will rule the day.
Eagles 34, Vikings 26
Mike Mulhern (1-0)
The vibes are high for the Vikings. They’re no longer ruled by the iron fist of Mike Zimmer and after throttling their bitter rivals from Green Bay, a division title seems well within reach this season.
New head coach Kevin O’Connell is the latest wunderkind from the Sean McVay coaching tree, bringing with him a high-paced, air-it-out attack. Just don’t get too carried away with their opening week returns. The Packers blew coverage after coverage, allowing Justin Jefferson (who needs no favors) to go off. Can Jonathan Gannon’s group avoid those killer self-inflicted wounds? Their performance against the Lions would indicate a firm “no.”
Giving up 35 points is egregious. The pass rush was non-existent and the run defense may have been worse. In particular, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had problems with his run fits and tackling angles as he made the switch from nickel corner to safety. That should get fixed with more reps. Yet, the defense did string together four consecutive series that included three 3-and-outs and a pick six by James Bradberry. So perhaps there is something to build on.
Offensively I wouldn’t expect the Vikings to emulate the Lions game plan of pressure, pressure, and more pressure. Detroit pretty much played into Jalen Hurts’ strengths by forcing him to run and he certainly made them pay. Hurts will still make some plays with his legs, but the Vikings will try to force him to win from the pocket. He should be able to with A.J. Brown proving to be a menace and DeVonta Smith hungry to get his after being shut out in the opener. Throw in a couple of explosive Miles Sanders plays and the offense should put up some points.
A win on Monday night sets the table for what could be a really special season.
Eagles 31, Vikings 28
Adam Hermann (1-0)
Is this the year the Vikings finally figure things out? We’re only one game in but their Week 1 win over the Packers was convincing. Justin Jefferson is terrifying. Kirk Cousins is… serviceable-to-good. And Kevin O’Connell seems to have unlocked an offense that was always brimming with potential. It’s fair to be afraid of the Vikings come Monday night.
All that said: I think the Eagles win. I expect the offensive line to bounce back after a shaky performance – Jason Kelce and Jeff Stoutland have too much pride and too much talent – and give Jalen Hurts enough time to see the field against a questionable Minnesota secondary. Hopefully Jonathan Gannon will allow Jordan Davis to do his job, and Haason Reddick will start to do his.
Plus home at the Linc on Monday night, in a season with high expectations, at the scene of the 38-7 crime? The vibes in South Philly will be exceedingly strong. If the Eagles win this game, something special indeed may be brewing this year.
Eagles 24, Vikings 23
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