NFC Championship Game Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackNo matter what happens the rest of the way, Case Keenum is assured of legendary status with the Vikings after throwing the Minnesota Miracle TD pass on the final play of the game to Stefon Diggs, that turned playoff defeat into a spectacular victory. Keenum threw for 318 yards and rose to the occasion when the Vikings needed him most.The Eagles were thought to be in a miserable position with Nick Foles at quarterback and trying to fill in for the injured Carson Wentz. Foles bounced back from two subpar performances to close the regular season with a solid showing in the divisional playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons. Foles completed 23-of-30 passes for 246 yards and did not throw an interception.
- OffenseThe Vikings have depth and versatility on offense, and they get a boost from their running game with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, who can take pressure off of Keenum. Diggs exorcised quite a few Minnesota ghosts with his spectacular game-winning TD while Adam Thielen has developed into a game-changer who can make the tough catches. Kyle Rudolph is a solid tight end.The Eagles were dangerous on offense for the majority of the season, and if Foles can come through with another solid showing here, that should open things up for wideouts Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. Power back LeGarrette Blount and speedy Jay Ajayi could cause problems for the Minnesota defense. Zach Ertz is a huge weapon who can be a red zone factor.
- DefenseThe Vikings have a strong, consistent and game-changing defense, and they finished with the top ranking in yards allowed. While they showed some vulnerability against Drew Brees and the Saints, Foles is not in that category. Defensive end Everson Griffen had 13.0 sacks in the regular season, while middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is a monster tackler (113 stops).The Eagles don’t have to take a backseat to too many defensive teams, but the Vikings have a slight edge here. However, the combination of the Eagles’ speed and the homefield could make things miserable for Keenum. Brandon Graham had 9.5 regular-season sacks and has explosiveness coming around the corner. Cornerback Patrick Robinson had four interceptions and 22 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings did not break any TD returns on punts or kickoffs, but punt returner Marcus Sherels has quickness and can find the soft spots. Kai Forbath made 32-of-38 FG attempts in the regular season, including 6-of-9 from 50 yards or more. He also made 3-of-4 attempts vs. the Saints.The Eagles are fairly decent on special teams, but they could use a big game against the Vikings. Jake Elliott made 26-of-31 FG attempts during the regular season, including 5-of-6 from 50 yards or more. Elliott made 3-of-3 in the divisional playoff win, but missed an extra point.
The Eagles have won 9-of-11 at home against the Vikings dating back to 1981, but the Vikings are healthier on offense and stronger on defense. The Vikings got their miracle finish against the Saints, but they won’t be satisfied until they get to play the Super Bowl at home.