Tale Of The Tape: Philadelphia Eagles At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackNick Foles’ magical run from obscurity to star is one of the top NFL stories of the year. While he got his opportunity as a result of Michael Vick’s injury, Foles has taken advantage of his chance by playing with confidence and throwing the ball with accuracy. His 20-1 TD-interception ratio indicates how sharp he has been and he has helped make the Eagles a legitimate playoff contender.The Vikings have plenty of problems and quarterback remains one of them. This team must come to the conclusion that they need a new quarterback, because Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel are simply not good enough. While both quarterbacks may be adequate at times, neither one is a championship level quarterback.
- OffenseThe Eagles often have the opportunity to string highlight-film plays together. LeSean McCoy is one of the most versatile running backs in the league. In addition to his talent at running with the ball, he is also an excellent pass catcher. DeSean Jackson is one of the best deep threats in the league because of his explosive speed. Riley Cooper and TE Brent Celek are solid possession types.The Vikings suffered a major blow in their Week 14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens when All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson went out of the game with a foot injury in the first half. If he can’t go against the Eagles, backup Toby Gerhart is adequate but he is not a star. Wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson are adequate targets, while rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is a challenging deep threat.
- DefenseThe Eagles have struggled on defense for most of the year and they rank 30th in yards allowed, but they have been a bit better in recent games. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a willing tackler who leads the team with 110 stops. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher has 17 passes defensed and two interceptions. Outside linebacker Trent Cole leads the team with 5.0 sacks.The Vikings have had a difficult time sustaining defensive success. They may make one or two stops, but then the dam breaks and opponents hit them with a torrent of points. The 31st-ranked Vikings are led by outside linebacker Chad Greenway who has a team-high 116 tackles and three interceptions. Defensive end Jared Allen remains the team’s best pass rusher with 7.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Eagles have been quite poor in their kickoff and punt coverage as they have given up three returns for touchdowns. While Jackson has explosive speed, he has not broken a long return yet. Alex Henery is just an ordinary placekicker.The Vikings will have a big advantage in this game if it comes down to special teams. Patterson is one of the fastest players in the league and he has two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Blair Walsh has connected on 24-of-27 FG attempts.
The Eagles are playing for first place in the NFC East and they have quite a bit of momentum. While the Eagles appear to be the better team, the Vikings are capable of pulling off a surprise if Patterson can break loose for a big play or two. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor