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Eagles defense vs. Vikings offense preview by the numbers

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Vikings had a very good Week 1 win and the offense looked very strong. This will be a big challenge for the Eagles defense. All data here is from Sports Info Solutions as always! The basic numbers...

  • 395 total yards, 269 passing and 126 rushing.
  • 6.5 yards per play (6th highest)
  • 2nd in offensive DVOA
  • 0 turnovers
  • 8.7 yards per pass attempt (4th highest)
  • 4.5 yards per rush (18th)

So the numbers highlight a really effective passing attack against a very good Packers defense, and a slightly below rushing game. Check out the odds for this game courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook, and let’s get into more detail and see how the Eagles match up.

Passing Game

Let’s start by looking at the Eagles tendencies from last week and then get into some key matchups.

No surprises here, but the Eagles played a heavy dose of zone coverage (sadly, the Packers did too).

This one might might surprise you a little bit too, the Eagles actually sent 5 rushers on 23% of the snaps which was the 14th highest in the league. 23% doesn’t feel too high and I think it maybe suggests defenses are sending less blitzes? But I’d have to look at the data.

And this is also a slight surprise, although maybe it shouldn’t be after the acquisition of CGJ who can cover the slot a lot more, but the Eagles did play with a one-high sell on 33% of the snaps last week.


If you are wondering why the Vikings passing attack was so good last week. It was play-action.

The Vikings had the most yards in the league last year on play-action, throwing for 159 yards on 11 attempts with 10 completions and 2 touchdowns. That’s... 15.9 yards per completion. This is a heavy under center approach with a lot of play-action involved.

The good news is, the Eagles defense handled play-action quite well last week. Goff went 6-10 for 72 yards against the Eagles. But this will be a whole new challenge for the Eagles.

I wanted to look at the Vikings play-action game in a bit more detail as I think this may be the key matchup. I filtered all Vikings play-action plays and it was clear where they had their best success - 1st and 10. On 1st down, the Vikings went 6/7 for for 139 yards. Just look at this.

That is pretty good. The Eagles better be ready.

Time for pressure

Some good news Eagles fans, the Vikings offensive line did allow 19 pressures last week which was the 7th highest amount. The bad news is they only ended up with 1 sack. The Eagles got 15 pressures which ranked 15th in the league. The Eagles will have to get pressure on the Vikings as we know historically this can impact Cousins and he has a turnover or two in him.

However, worryingly, Cousins was OK under pressure last week. He went 8/14 for 74 yards which was the 7th highest amount in the league for 1 touchdown.

The Packers barely blitzed at all last week (25th lowest blitz rate in the league) and it may be time for the Eagles to be a bit more aggressive at get after Cousins early on to try and rattle him.

Justin Jefferson

We all know a big reason why the Vikings pass offense was this guy. His numbers last week are sort of frightening. On only 35 routes run, Jefferson went 9-184-2. That is insane. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Jefferson had 4 receptions on 4 targets (2nd highest) when in motion. The Vikings will use Jefferson in motion a lot so the Eagles absolutely better be ready for this. This is why it is difficult to simply try and cover him 1on1.

This could be a huge game for Maddox too. Jefferson can do it all but he still largely dominates from the slot. He ran 19 routes from the slot last year and had 6 catches on 7 targets for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. His best work was from the slot and I’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles deal with him there.

It feels a lot like the game will come down to how much the Eagles can stop JJ.

Running Game

11 Personnel

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings are very much an under center team who use the threat of the run to set up play-action. The Vikings like to spread the field and run, favoring 11 personnel but also going heavy quite a bit too!

The Vikings were extremely effective last week running from 11 personnel. They had 11 carries for 72 yards. None of these carries were more than 12 yards either, which highlights that they were just consistently effective.

The worrying part is the Eagles defense had a nightmare against the Lions in 11 personnel. The Eagles often play 2 high shells against 11 personnel to give them more flexibility on the back end. Last week, they played a light box on 32 snaps and a stacked box only 5 snaps. How did that go? On 11 personnel, the Lions went for 143 yards on 22 carries and 2 touchdowns including 8(!) first downs. That’s a big concern.

Early down runs

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings will run the ball on 1st down and try to get the Eagles to bite on play-action later on. Last week, the Vikings ran 16 times (10th highest) on 1st down for 74 yards. Expect them to use a lot of motion on early downs too, they used it 11 times last week on 1st down (8th highest) for 48 yards.

As we saw last week, the Eagles were not great against the run on 1st down, allowing 52 yards on 13 carries and 2 1st downs. I expect to see more Jordan Davis this week.

Speaking of Jordan Davis... we all know he looked good last week but the difference he made when looking at advanced stats is pretty crazy. With Davis on the field last week, the Eagles allowed 0.02 EPA/per play per rush. With Davis off the field, they allowed 0.42 EPA/per play per rush. That’s an absurd difference.

Final Thoughts

This is going to be a really tough game for the Eagles defense. The Vikings can run the ball really effectively, use play-action really well, and have a superstar wide receiver. The Eagles secondary is very good and this may be a game to sit in more 2-high shells and bracket Jefferson as much as possible. If they do this though, we will have to see more Jordan Davis on early downs or the Vikings will continue to run on 1st down to take advantage of light boxes. Also, the linebackers in particular must be extremely wary of play-action as the Vikings were incredible efficient with play-action last week.

The Vikings use a lot of under center play-action which means that Kirk Cousins will have to turn his back to the defense so I hope we see a lot of post-snap rotation too in order to change the picture that he is looking at.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

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