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Eagles vs. Vikings: Which team has the edge?

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Position-by-position breakdown.

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) will travel to play the Minnesota Vikings (3-2) in a Week 6 game at U.S. Bank Stadium this Sunday. In order to determine which team has the edge in this matchup, let’s look at a position-by-position breakdown.

QUARTERBACK

Carson Wentz’s traditional stats don’t look amazing. There’s a strong case to be made he’s playing much better than those numbers indicate, however, as Pro Football Focus has noted:

So far this season, there aren’t many quarterbacks who are playing much better than their stats would indicate, but Carson Wentz does stick out as his PFF grade is far better than his No. 19 ranking in passer rating. As we highlighted last week, Wentz has had incredibly bad luck, as many of his best throws have fallen incomplete thus far this season. He has the most positively graded throws that have fallen incomplete, including five big-time throws. Those five accurate big-time throws would move Wentz up about 10 spots in passer rating, highlighting just how significant just five plays can be in shaping player perception.

This week will test just how well Wentz is playing. He’s facing a Minnesota pass defense that ranks ninth best in terms of DVOA and fifth best in terms of opponent yards per throw. The Eagles need a sharp game from No. 11.

On the other side, Kirk Cousins is arguably playing worse than his traditional stats indicate. Per PFF:

Another player where terrible fumbles are getting hidden behind the passing stats, Cousins is off to a poor start despite what his No. 10 ranking in passer rating may indicate. He has six turnover-worthy plays and only two interceptions to show for them, but for Cousins, it’s been more about the poor quality in each of these plays. Against the Packers in Week 2, Cousins put the ball on the ground twice, while also heaving a prayer into the end zone for an interception with the game on the line. [...] In addition to the turnover-worthy plays, Cousins has been aided by 55.2% of his yards coming after the catch, second-highest in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. Turnover luck combined with above-average production (due to his playmakers and scheme) has led to a 100.1 passer rating that is not even close to telling the story of Cousins’ season through five weeks.

We all know that Kurt Coupons has played well against the Eagles in the past. As is the case with most quarterbacks, getting pressure on him will be critical this week.

According to Sheil Kapadia, Wentz is producing negative plays at the third lowest rate among NFL quarterbacks this season. Cousins, meanwhile, is producing negative players at the fourth highest rate. I’m leaning Wentz here.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at quarterback?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Eagles
    (1976 votes)
  • 4%
    Vikings
    (102 votes)
2078 votes total Vote Now

RUNNING BACK

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is a beast. It’s too bad the Eagles missed out on him a few years back. The 2017 second-round pick ranks second in total rushing yards (542) and fifth yards per carry (5.9). Cook isn’t the only Vikings runner having success, though. Rookie Alexander Mattison is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Third-string option Ameer Abdullah is at 5.7 while fourth-string option Mike Boone is at 9.3.

Minnesota’s rushing attack will be challenged by an Eagles defense that’s allowing the second fewest yards per rushing attempt. The Vikings would be wise to attack the Eagles through the air instead. But Mike Zimmer’s antiquated desire to “establish the run” could play into the Eagles’ strength.

The Eagles shouldn’t be relying too hard on their run game to beat the Vikings, either. Minnesota has the No. 2 run defense in terms of DVOA. Jordan Howard’s 4.7 yards per carry mark will be tested against this group. Miles Sanders’ pass catching ability could come in handy here but he needs to improve as a runner.

EDGE: Vikings

Poll

Which team has the edge at running back?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Eagles
    (348 votes)
  • 82%
    Vikings
    (1619 votes)
1967 votes total Vote Now

WIDE RECEIVER

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs has expressed displeasure with Cousins but they’re still producing. Thielen is at 15.4 yards per reception while Diggs is at 15.8. These guys are going to test a leaky Eagles secondary.

The Eagles’ wide receivers aren’t so threatening right now, especially with DeSean Jackson likely out. Alshon Jeffery can contribute as a possession receiver but he seems to be hampered by his previous calf issue. Nelson Agholor is not helping this team.

Easy call here.

EDGE: Vikings

Poll

Which team has the edge at wide receiver?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Eagles
    (175 votes)
  • 90%
    Vikings
    (1711 votes)
1886 votes total Vote Now

TIGHT END

Vikings tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. have combined for 11 receptions, 100 yards, and zero touchdowns. It goes without saying that Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are the superior options here. 12 personnel is especially important for an Eagles team that’s not getting great wide receiver production.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at tight end?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Eagles
    (1792 votes)
  • 5%
    Vikings
    (103 votes)
1895 votes total Vote Now

OFFENSIVE LINE

The Eagles rank second in run blocking and ninth in pass blocking by PFF. Football Outsiders’ metrics have the line rated a little lower at 15th in run blocking and 10th in pass blocking.

The Eagles have been inconsistent up front this year. The Falcons game didn’t go so well for them, especially with Isaac Seumalo looking like a disaster. But then the Eagles absolutely dominated the Packers’ defensive front in Green Bay. The Eagles’ blockers will be tested by a productive Vikings pass rush in Minnesota.

PFF has the Vikings’ offensive line ranked 15th in run blocking and 31st in pass blocking. Football Outsiders’ metric puts Minnesota 6th in run blocking and 24th in pass blocking.

So, it’s clear that pass protection isn’t the Vikings’ biggest strength. That’s been an issue for them going back years now.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at offensive line?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Eagles
    (1765 votes)
  • 4%
    Vikings
    (83 votes)
1848 votes total Vote Now

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Vikings’ pass rush only ranks 15th by PFF. Football Outsiders has Minnesota 10th in adjusted sack rate. Starting edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen lead the way for the Vikings with five and three sacks, respectively. The Eagles’ offensive tackles will be challenged by that duo. Mammoth defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who actually had a pick six against the Eagles last year, will present challenges for Philly’s interior offensive line.

The Eagles likely won’t be notching 10 sacks against the Vikings like they did against the Jets but there’s reason to believe they can impact Klurp Cowpies. As previously noted, the Vikings’ offensive line is suspect to allowing pressure. Minnesota is especially vulnerable on the interior, so this would be a great game for Fletcher Cox to show up in a big way.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at defensive line?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Eagles
    (1271 votes)
  • 28%
    Vikings
    (513 votes)
1784 votes total Vote Now

LINEBACKER

This one is pretty simple. The Eagles aren’t devoid of talent at linebacker but the Vikings edge them out with Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.

EDGE: Vikings

Poll

Which team has the edge at linebacker?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Eagles
    (285 votes)
  • 83%
    Vikings
    (1419 votes)
1704 votes total Vote Now

CORNERBACK

One might recall the Eagles have gotten the best out of Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes in the past. Just think back to the 2018 NFL Championship Game, 38 to 7. But Waynes and Rhodes are at least decent starting corners in the NFL, though they don’t have any pick this year. These guys aren’t exactly facing the toughest challenge across from them this week.

The Eagles could be rolling with Sidney Jones (at least than 100%), Rasul Douglas, Craig James, Orlando Scandrick, and Ryan Lewis at corner this week. That group could have a real tough time covering Thielen and Diggs.

EDGE: Vikings

Poll

Which team has the edge at cornerback?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Eagles
    (178 votes)
  • 89%
    Vikings
    (1525 votes)
1703 votes total Vote Now

SAFETY

Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod have both been playing at a high level this season. Getting McLeod back has been important for Philly, as Jim Schwartz recently discussed.

“He’s a big part of our defense. Not just in communication, but the energy he plays with. He’s a good, strong tackler. We might have had an extra sack if not for Rodney. Probably our worst pass rush Rodney was free on a rush one time and the quarterback slipped him, which is going to happen. But he’s taking a lot of ribbing for that right now. He’s been a big part of our success as a franchise over the last few years and it’s great to have him back.”

The Eagles will also be sure to pick the brain of former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo this week. Zimmer said he expects Sendejo to “sing like a canary.”

The Vikings still have Harrison Smith on the back end. Sendejo has been replaced by Anthony Harris, who actually leads Minnesota in interceptions with two.

Determining the edge here is tough but Ertz has had success against Smith in the past. So I’ll lean with the Eagles in a close one.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at safety?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Eagles
    (1401 votes)
  • 17%
    Vikings
    (288 votes)
1689 votes total Vote Now

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Eagles rank 12th in DVOA while the Vikings rank 15th.

Vikings kicker Dan Bailey has only missed one field goal this year but he’s been shaky in past seasons (75.0% in both 2017 and 2018). He’s also missed an extra point this year.

One big concern about the Eagles is that Darren Sproles won’t be back on punt returns this week. That means Corey Clement or Nelson Agholor could be back there. Clement has had issues with fumbling returns dating back to last year. Agholor has fumbled twice on offense this year. Not incredibly inspiring! Is J.R. Reed available?

EDGE: Vikings

Poll

Which team has the edge at special teams?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Eagles
    (1049 votes)
  • 32%
    Vikings
    (507 votes)
1556 votes total Vote Now

COACHING

Doug Pederson put a stellar plan together for the Packers game in Week 4. There’s reason to have confidence in him in a big spot like this. He’s certainly outcoached Zimmer before.

There’s a chance Zimmer is stubborn and tries to rely on running the ball too much even though that plays into the Eagles’ defensive strengths.

EDGE: Eagles

Poll

Which team has the edge at coaching?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Eagles
    (1520 votes)
  • 7%
    Vikings
    (125 votes)
1645 votes total Vote Now

OVERALL

The Eagles have the edge in six categories here while the Vikings finish with five. Therefore, the Eagles should win. Boom. That simple.

Of course, that’s not how it really works. All categories aren’t equally important. Still, this has the makings of a close game. Hard to get a great feel for who’s going to win.

Poll

Which team has the edge in this game?

This poll is closed

  • 75%
    Eagles
    (1485 votes)
  • 24%
    Vikings
    (491 votes)
1976 votes total Vote Now