Bleeding Green Nation’s game-by-game preview of the Eagles’ 2018 schedule continues today with Philadelphia’s Week 5 opponent: the Minnesota Vikings. (Week 4 preview is here.)
I know I’m not alone when I say I cannot wait for this rematch.
The Eagles legally own the Vikings right now. They kicked the crap out of them in the NFC Championship Game, 38 to 7. Philadelphia then proceeded to dunk all over their incredibly whiny fans by winning a Super Bowl in Minnesota’s own home stadium.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention how Eagles fans hijacked their ‘SKOL’ chant and turned it into a Nick FOLES chant. (And even a FULTZ chant!) Now anytime Vikings fans do their chant, they’ll have to remember how they got blown out by a backup quarterback in one of their biggest games in franchise history.
The Vikings will also have to remember that they aided the Eagles’ Super Bowl win by being dumb and giving up draft picks for Sam Bradford that ultimately turned into Derek Barnett (and Josh Sweat). You may recall Barnett strip-sacked Case Keenum at a critical point in the NFCCG.
But enough about last year. The Vikings made some significant changes this offseason by signing Kirk Cousins to replace Keenum. Minnesota also added Sheldon Richardson to an already-strong defense. On paper, the Vikings figure to be a really good team once again.
The Cousins dynamic is interesting because, in a vacuum, he’s an upgrade on Keenum. But is he really an upgrade over the player that Keenum was last year? Probably not. I’d also like to point out that he’s 4-19 all-time against teams that finish the season with a winning record. He’s 8-21 against teams that finish with eight or more wins. You can laugh off #QBWinz but when has he ever really won a big game in a big spot? He’s folded in those moments to this point. Good individual stats that don’t correlate with team success. He’s basically Tony Romo.
In fairness to Cousins, he has had the Eagles’ number at times in the past. Especially when the Birds were bad. I do think he could give Minnesota a better chance at keeping the score closer than 38 to 7 this time around. Maybe it’ll be something like 38 to 14 this time.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the Vikings from our SB Nation colleagues over at Daily Norseman.
Notable free agent additions: QB Kirk Cousins and DT Sheldon Richardson. Cousins shook up NFL free agency, maybe forever, by signing a three year, $84 million, fully guaranteed contract. With that come some pretty high expectations, but it also brings talent and stability to a position not seen in these parts for awhile. The Vikings had a top ten offense with Case Keenum last season, and Cousins should help elevate that ranking more. He has more all around talent in Minnesota than he had in Washington, and it’s expected Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook will have big seasons.
On defense, the Vikes only lost one starter, Tom Johnson, and replaced him with Richardson. The combination of him and Linval Joseph in the middle of the VIkings defensive line should cause some serious matchup problems for most opposing offensive lines, and he provides a tremendous upgrade to what was already one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Kind of a low key free agent signing was OL Tom Compton, pride of Rosemount, MN. He provides experience and versatility, and an outside chance to start at the position group that has the most questions as we head towards training camp.
Over / under: 10 wins. Over. Minnesota went 13-3 and made it to the NFC Championship game last year, and they got better on paper during the off-season. They have a tougher schedule, but I still see them going about 12-4.
Rookie I’m most excited about: CB Mike Hughes. The Vikings secondary is obscenely talented, boasting five different first round picks--Hughes, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Harrison Smith, and Terence Newman. People are still on the fence about Waynes, although he had a pretty good season last year. Still, it’s uncertain whether or not the Vikings bring him back when his rookie contract is done (he can be a FA after 2019 season), and they need a potential replacement if they decide to move in a different direction. They’ll also need depth at the position, along with Mackensie Alexander, as Terence Newman will probably retire after this season. Hughes is the perfect cover-type cornerback that head coach Mike Zimmer loves, and should fit right in to the defense.
Best position battle heading into camp: WR3. The top two guys are set with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. After them, though, questions abound. Former first round draft pick Laquon Treadwell is going in to his third season and has a grand total of 21 career receptions. The Vikings also signed former Bears WR Kendall Wright in free agency, and it’s expected they’ll battle it out for the third wide receiver spot.
Biggest storyline heading into camp: The offensive line. The o-line has been the overriding concern for Vikings fans for the last few seasons, and this year is no exception. They fixed a lot of their issues last year, but starting RG Joe Berger retired, leaving an opening. At the end of last season, when starting LG Nick Easton broke his ankle in the season finale and missed the playoffs, the Vikes moved RT Mike Remmers to LG, and started Rashod Hill at RT. This season, it looks like Minnesota will keep Remmers inside, only move him to Berger’s old RG spot. If Hill can’t step up and take the RT position, second round draft pick Brian O’Neill could push for the job, or the Vikings could look at second year RG Danny Isidora on the inside, and put Remmers back out at RT.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into camp: Kicker. Incumbent Kai Forbath is on the verge of getting bounced by fifth round pick Daniel Carson from Auburn. Forbath has missed more extra points (eight) than actual field goals (five) in his two seasons with the Vikings, which has frustrated the fans and the front office. Carlson has performed better than Forbath during OTA’s, and has a much better touchback percentage than Forbath, so it feels like the Vikes are going to roll with a rookie, and see if he can put the Wide Left Curse to rest once and for all.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: C Pat Elflein and RB Dalvin Cook. Both are healed and ready to go from their injuries last season, but both will also be closely watched. Elflein broke his ankle in the NFC Championship game and needed surgery, while Cook tore his ACL in week four. Both are huge components for an offense that’s expected to be pretty good, and if there are any setbacks in training camp for either guy, the talent drop off will be noticeable.
Do you think the Eagles will beat the Vikings?
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