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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/20/18.

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NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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Bud Light Sends Out a Special Message To Eagles Fans - Crossing Broad
Bud Light had a smashing hit with their “Dilly Dilly” commercials this season. You’ll start to see the second installment of their series this weekend. The “Ye Old Pep Talk” is a precursor to their Super Bowl ad that will be released in two weeks, and hopefully the Eagles will be playing for a championship as well. But there’s also a Philadelphia-specific message from the King himself. He’s surprised to see the team make it this far with injuries, and he admits he was wrong, even though he’s never wrong.

Vikings writer gives 3 reasons why the Eagles will beat Minnesota - BGN
The Eagles boast one of the game’s best defensive tackle combinations in Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan. While the Vikings’ offensive line has been vastly improved over what we saw from them the last time these two teams faced off, this could turn out to be one of their tougher tests of the season. Not only are Cox and Jernigan outstanding against the run, spearheading the NFL’s best rush defense, but they can also provide pressure in the passing game. The Vikings’ interior trio of right guard Joe Berger, rookie center Pat Elflein, and left guard Mike Remmers (who made his first ever start at left guard last week after starting at right tackle for much of his career) are definitely going to have their hands full. If they can’t keep Case Keenum clean and clear of interior pressure, he could end up throwing up some “YOLO balls” like the one we saw last week that wound up getting intercepted by Marcus Williams. They’re also going to make it very difficult for the Vikings to establish any sort of a run game, which will put even more pressure on the quarterback position.

Mailbag: Are the Eagles’ cornerbacks still a concern? - PhillyVoice
I’m glad this question came up, just for the point on height, which I’ve also seen on Twitter. Thielen is listed in a lot of places at 6’3. I have no idea why, seeing as the Vikings themselves list him at 6’2, which might even be a stretch. At his pro day in 2013, Thielen measured in a 6’1 1/8. So unless he hit puberty at the age of 23, he’s nowhere near 6’3, and is probably listed generously at 6’2. Meanwhile, Diggs is 6’0. Jalen Mills is 6’0. Ronald Darby is 5’11. Patrick Robinson is 5’11. Rasul Douglas is 6’2. Sidney Jones is 6’0. None of those guys are Mark McMillian. Thielen and Diggs are both good receivers capable of big plays, but it’s not like either of them are Mike Evans, in terms of physical stature.

Know Your Enemy – MIN - Iggles Blitz
The Vikings went 13-3 this year. They had the #1 defense in points and yards. The offense finished 10th in points and 11th in yards. This is a legitimately outstanding team. They may have won last week on a crazy, fluke play, but don’t get caught up in that. Crazy things happen in the postseason. Good teams take advantage of them.

Scouting NFL playoff officials: What to know about championship game referees - ESPN
Hochuli has worked three Eagles playoff games since 1999: a 2000 divisional-round loss to the Giants, a 2003 divisional-round victory over the Packers and a 2009 wild-card loss to the Cowboys. In 2017, his regular-season crew was much friendlier to defensive backs and less helpful to wide receivers than most of the league’s officials. It called the league’s highest total of offensive pass-interference calls (18) and the second-lowest total of defensive pass-interference, defensive holding and illegal-contact penalties combined (29). During the regular season, the Eagles (23) and Vikings (21) ranked in the middle of the NFL in such penalties. This will be Hochuli’s second appearance in the 2017 playoffs. He also worked the wild-card game between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams. That crew called a total of 11 penalties in that game, which the Falcons won 26-13.

NFC Championship Preview 2018 - Football Outsiders
Protection could be a problem too. According to Sports Info Solutions charting, the Vikings had the third-most plays with blown blocks this year. The Eagles have a strong defensive line that helped the defense to the eighth-highest pressure rate (32.5 percent) this season. Chris Long (35.0), Vinny Curry (28.5), Fletcher Cox (28.5), and Brandon Graham (27.0) all had at least 27 pressures this season, according to Sports Info Solutions. Quarterbacks love to get rid of the ball quickly against the Eagles, and that would be wise for Keenum to follow. The Eagles actually allowed the third-most YAC per reception (5.8 yards) according to ESPN Stats & Info, so getting the ball out quickly to playmakers such as Diggs, Thielen, and even tight end Kyle Rudolph should be the order of the day.

Key stats for every Championship Round playoff team - PFF
Through 16 games of the regular season, no defense in football produced more pressures than the Philadelphia Eagles, who combined to put up a whopping 287 pressures, 19 more than the Jaguars, who were next closest defense. All told, they produced pressure on 40.8 percent of their pass-defense snaps, the highest rate league-wide. Cox has been an integral part of that pass-rush, as he personally contributed 54 of those pressures, the fifth-best pressure total among defensive tackles. Creating pressure will be key for the Eagles this weekend, as Vikings quarterback Case Keenum managed a paltry passer rating of just 5.1 on his pressured throws last week, the lowest mark of the playoffs so far.

Doug Pederson’s preseason comparison doesn’t look so ridiculous now - NBC Sports Philadelphia
When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles “probably have more talent” than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Millions of eyebrows maybe. The Eagles? Who hadn’t won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson’s first season? More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?

Doug Pederson To Team: Block Out All The Noise - PE.com
No more media for Doug Pederson. With only two days remaining before the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Pederson had his final press conference on Friday and understands the importance of making sure he is on top of his game against the Vikings. To do so, he and his team aren’t looking ahead. Not even a little bit. “The messaging is, we’ve got to focus on this game. We’ve got to focus on the Vikings. We’ve got to focus on our jobs and the schemes and the game plan and have good practices and win today,” Pederson said at the NovaCare Complex. “Win Friday. Wednesday and Thursday, we’ve already put those two days to rest. Now it’s about winning Friday and just kind of stacking the days. Doing the same things that we’ve done that got us in this spot. That’s all we’ve been talking about.”

Joe Buck: Vikings May Not Be Ready For Eagles Fans - CBS Philly
Joe Buck said something nice about Philly! The unpopular NFL on FOX analyst joined Friday’s 94WIP Morning Show and talked about his excitement for Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the Vikings and Eagles in Philadelphia. “I’m anxious to walk into the stadium to hear what the crowd level at an outdoor arena like that,” said Buck. “And I think it’s going to be just overwhelming. And I don’t know that Minnesota knows what it’s about to walk into, in Philadelphia. I can’t wait.”

What Philadelphia Eagles are saying: The best quotes leading up to NFC Championship Game - PennLive
On whether he feels motivated to beat the Vikings’ top-ranked defense: “We’ve got a lot of respect for their defense and the players on their team, but we’ve got a lot of confidence in our defense as well and the guys that we have. So we’re not focused on them. We want to have a big performance for ourselves — it’s our home, it’s our crowd. The crowd gets up for the defense, so in order to make it a home-field advantage, we’ve got to play well. And that’s what we fully anticipate.”

Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins embraces spokesman role - Inquirer
Eagles players don’t fly first-class on the team’s chartered flights. If anyone could get Doug Pederson to upgrade the plane, the players had recently decided, it was Malcolm Jenkins, the locker room’s unofficial spokesman. When the playoff-bound Eagles wanted to wear pads in practice again, it was Jenkins who approached Pederson. When some of the players felt slighted by the Eagles coach’s comments following last season’s loss at the Bengals, it was Jenkins who spoke up. When the locker room wants this, that or the other thing, the safety is typically the messenger. And he often gets his way. “I’m not afraid to speak on things, so I feel if there’s something the locker room wants, I’m not necessarily afraid to go up to Howie [Roseman] or Doug and express that,” Jenkins said. “For some guys, that makes them uncomfortable and that also depends on where you are from a security standpoint. “But I don’t always get what I want. I get told no all the time.” For example, Jenkins’ request on first-class was rejected.

Q&A with Joe Banner: On Pederson, the last game at the Vet and the NFL hiring process - The Athletic
It wasn’t as dramatic as these games at the end, but the most nerve-wracking game from the time I was at the Eagles was the championship game against Tampa Bay when we were closing the Vet. I still look back and think we had a significantly better team, and of course Tampa Bay went on to win the Super Bowl, and we weren’t playing in it. I remember getting the early lead with the big kick return and then having a couple of good chances with really good field position, not being able to build on the lead. And then we fell behind, 20-10, and we had a drive with a couple of minutes to go in the game that would have at least given us a small chance if we scored a touchdown to make it 20-17. And then, we threw an interception that got run back for a touchdown. I literally remember just going to the floor in pain and anguish and disappointment. And I probably have more vivid, specific remembrances of plays and circumstances in that game than any game in the entire time I was there.

Vikings practiced indoors all week - PFT
The Vikings will play outdoors Sunday. The practiced indoors. They had no choice. “The [outdoor practice] field wasn’t in good enough shape,’’ Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

How to Attack the Philadelphia Eagles - Zone Coverage
The Eagles defense isn’t constructed to be particularly complex, though they’ve grown in complexity over time as defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has added blitzes and stunts to an otherwise vanilla defense. Instead, they’re built from the inside out, with incredible interior talent on early downs and a dominant pass-rushing force on third and long. That ability to generate pressure gives the secondary additional leeway when covering receivers and they’ve used that to create turnovers and shut down big plays again and again. Luckily for the Vikings and their talented receiving corps, the solution to one problem — a prodigious pass rush — might also be the solution to the other problem — that opportunistic defensive backfield.

Bleeding Green Nation tells us why the Vikings will win Sunday - Daily Norseman
With that, this exchange of information between myself and Brandon Gowton, BGN’s lead writer, is sort of unique. Each of us has presented the other guy with three reasons why the other team will win this week’s game. Brandon has sent me three reasons why the Vikings are going to beat the Eagles, and I’ve sent him three reasons why the Eagles will beat the Vikings. You can see the reasons that I gave him for the Eagles winning on Sunday right here, and here are his three reasons that the Vikings will advance in this year’s playoffs.

Minnesota’s vicious defense is going to be a tough matchup for the Eagles - SB Nation
Everyone will remember the 2017 Vikings for Stefon Diggs’s miracle walk-off touchdown against the Saints. But Minnesota’s defense has been the team’s biggest strength all season. In the NFC Championship, it’ll line up against an Eagles offense missing its star player, Carson Wentz. If Philadelphia wants to win the game, it’ll have to rely on its run game to confuse the Minnesota defense.

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