The Philadelphia Eagles are set to face the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football. In order to preview this Week 2 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Daily Norseman. The courteous Christopher Gates kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming battle. Let’s take a look at the answers. [For my answers to Chris’s questions about the Eagles, check out this link to DN.]
Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have all of the odds for this week’s games.
1) Let’s get a vibe check. How are Vikings fans feeling after the big win over the Packers?
I think that Vikings fans are feeling pretty good about this team right now, as they should. While a lot of us thought that the Vikings could definitely beat the Packers, I don’t think very many people expected things to be as one-sided as they were on Sunday. Usually when you take on a divisional opponent you expect things to be relatively close, but the Vikings had their foot on the gas from the opening kickoff and never really let up. I think that Sunday’s game definitely raised the bar for what the fans are expecting from the Vikings this season. A lot of people probably saw them as a fringe playoff team for this season, but after Sunday I think they’re expecting to be in a fight for the NFC North all season long and possibly more than that. So, I’d have to say that the vibes are pretty positive around this team at the moment.
2) What is the Vikings’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
Right now, the biggest strength of this team is its ability to move the football through the air. The Vikings saw a definite shift in their offensive personnel usage in the first week of the Kevin O’Connell era, eschewing a lot of the two-tight end “heavier” sets that the team favored at the end of the Mike Zimmer era for significantly more 3-wide sets in order to get their best players on the field. The result was an offense that was less predictable and had a very solid Green Bay defense off balance all afternoon long. Of course, it helps when you have a player like Justin Jefferson to key everything off of, but that’s another big part of what Kevin O’Connell does. He’s going to get his best players in position to be successful, and as teams start to do more and different things to slow down Jefferson it will be up to Kirk Cousins to take advantage.
3) What is the Vikings’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
The biggest weakness with the Vikings right now is definitely the run defense. Lost in the excitement of the victory on Sunday is the fact that the Packers were absolutely ripping Minnesota in the run game to the tune of 6.2 yards/carry, and Green Bay’s only touchdown drive of the day saw a heavy dose of the run game to get them into the end zone. The Vikings brought in a lot of players to try to shore up what has been a terrible run defense over the past few seasons in Harrison Phillips and Jordan Hicks (among others), but in Week 1 it certainly didn’t look like a whole lot had changed. With the success that the Eagles had running the ball against Detroit, I would absolutely expect them to line up and run the football until the Vikings show that they can at least slow it down.
4) How would you grade the Jalen Reagor trade from the Vikings’ perspective? What are reasonable expectations for him in Minny this season and moving forward?
I think the Reagor trade, at this point, would merit a solid “B” based on what the expectations for him are. His primary duty at this point is going to be as the team’s punt returner, and while I know he had some struggles with that in Philadelphia, he was certainly a better option on that front than anyone else the Vikings were trying to put in that spot. Perhaps as the season goes on and he has an opportunity to get more involved in the offense he can see his role evolve a bit, and the team does have him under contract through the end of next season, but for now his primary job is to return punts and he seems to be settling into that role without any real issues.
5) Who wins this game and why? With DraftKings Sportsbook listing the Eagles as 2.5-point favorites, what’s your score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Vikings season?
This should, hopefully, be a pretty entertaining football game. Both teams have shown that they can score points in bunches and are now considered among the contenders in the NFC. It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do to try to counter the presence of Justin Jefferson, and just as interesting to see what the Vikings try to do to get their run defense figured out against this Philadelphia offense. I think that the Vikings can do just enough to get themselves a victory in this one. We’ll say 30-27, Minnesota. As far as the rest of the season, I think this team is going to be able to do just enough to push themselves past Green Bay to the top of the NFC North and get themselves at least one home playoff game. Beyond that, it’s hard to say, but the bar has definitely been raised for the rest of the season, in my opinion.