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Savage: 2017 NFC Championship rematch and neither team looks remotely like a contender so far. The Eagles offense that averaged 28.6 pts per game in 2017 has managed only 20.5 pts per game this year. The Vikings defense limited opponents to 15.8 pts per game in 2017, but that's ballooned up to 27.5 in 2018. Is this the new reality for these teams in 2018, or will we see them revert back to their 2017 form? Katz is red hot and has Vikings +3 in his Blazing 5. Will anybody be joining him (or daring to go against him)?
RC: I'm rattled by how bad the Eagles look right now. Look at their season...
-- Lucked by ATL on more 4th & goal stops
-- smacked by Tampa
-- Should've lost to the Colts Week 3 by slipped by
-- Made Mariota look like Joe Montana Week 4
They're 2-2 and I'd argue they've been outplayed in all 4 games.
The Vikings crime is the unluckiest game in history Week 3 v. BUF and then going toe-to-two with the Rams.
I think with revenge from Final Four last year + 2 game losing streak pent up + no Dalvin Cook would be YUGE to help them win/keep Zimmer from going there + they're the better team...with the season kinda on the line for the Vikings with 10 days prep I think they're going to take Philly to the woodshed.
Katz: I'm completely on board with RC here. The Vikings' offense looked incredible last week. They were simply outscored by the best offense in football. The Eagles don't have nearly as many weapons. The Vikings have the benefit of not having Dalvin Cook while the Eagles are going to have the impediment of having Jay Ajayi. The Vikings need a win. I would feel better if the Eagles were coming off a win, but I'm still confident in the Vikings pulling this one out.
Skol: Remember the point last Thursday night where it seemed like the Vikings had a chance to win the game?...neither do I. Cousins has been better than I expected but the Rams defense was essentially without both corners and I think that defense is over hyped even at full strength. I think the Vikings will score but they have such a small chance to keep the Eagles under 30 points. The Eagles are without Barnett so that helps...Vikings OL is rested and a little healthier but still not good. I’d be thrilled if the Vikings got a win here but on the road (on grass) with a pass heavy game plan and a bad defense...this doesn’t excite me. Vikings should win the next 2 games so I guess I don’t feel the universe pulling them toward a win to save their season...we need to let go of the psychological anchor that this is a 10+ win team. Lose here and win the next two and they are on pace to be the 8-9 win team they actually are.
Savage: I struggled to find a 5th game for my blazing 5 and ended up including Eagles -3 with my last spot. I think they can win this on the line of scrimmage. They have a solid O-line and the Vikings pass rush has been nearly non-existent without Everson Griffen. They barely touched Goff last Thursday. I still like the Eagles defensive front... I think it's the best one the Vikings have seen all season and, as Skolman said, their line is still not good. I think we see Cousins get strip sacked once again.
The other thing I like about this game, I think the Eagles have the right kind of offense to attack the Vikings defense. Barr and Kendricks never come off the field for Minnesota, so teams have been putting speed on the field and using misdirection to force those guys into mismatches. Last week we saw the Rams use motion before the play and a few times wound up with Barr covering a WR on a crossing route. The Vikings had a few huge defensive breakdowns against the Bills too, either on basic misdirection plays or on a Josh Allen scramble. The Eagles do that misdirection stuff about as well as anyone besides the Rams and Patriots, and Wentz is great at keeping plays alive.
RC: On Skol's 'lose here, win next two...' -- I think the Vikings are at a do-or-die-ish moment here. The sloppy GB game tie, the football folly loss to Buffalo, the just outplayed but the Rams, but staying close which is a 'kinda win'. I think they play out of their minds while Philly is still languishing around with the defensing champ hangover. If emotion/'getting up' for a game matters here, the Vikings HAVE TO win this game for so many reasons on so many levels -- tied by their arch enemy GB, lost to thew worst and best teams in football...now the revenge from last year game. I think Philly drew Minnesota at the exact wrong time here.
Savage: Legit playoff teams do not lose three games in a row very often... its a good point. What if the 2018 Vikings are not a legit playoff team though? If their defense doesn't perform as a top 10 unit, which it hasn't so far, I don't think they have enough offense to win 9-10 games.
I'm curious how you guys would feel if the Packers were getting 3 points from the Eagles in this game. RC suggested in this week's GB/BUF recap that the Packers are extremely overrated, and I tend to agree. They were lucky to beat the Bears, got dominated by the Redskins, and had the most unimpressive shutout I've ever seen against the Bills. But in week 2, I thought they were much better than the Vikings. They dominated the game for about 55 minutes and would have won easily were it not for Mike McCarthy. If we as a group think the Packers are an overrated team, I think the Vikings are right there with them.
Skol: The Vikings are a popular pick this week by you guys and others that I respect so I follow the argument, however, the motivation part just doesn’t compute with me. So the “motivation” of winning last year and playing the Super Bowl in your own stadium resulted in a epic smackdown...but the chance to “cash in” on a win in week 6 to get to 2-2-1 is a force so strong we can’t resist?..btw, the Eagles need the game too! The biggest issue here is that the Vikings are two teams...home Vikings and away Vikings. The worst version of this team is away on a grass field...it’s been true for years. I’m not over the moon with the Eagles but the Vikings weaknesses are so clear I would want more than a FG. I’m open to the idea that you guys are seeing this clearer than me...I didn’t bail last year...I watched the NFC Championship until the clock hit 0:00 so I’m sure I still have some emotional baggage just 10 months later!
RC: I think the 'motivation' discussion speaks to any possible letdown, etc., potential of siding with the Vikings here -- I think it's an added edge/risk off the table that your underdog play could come out flat (like maybe TEN does at BUF this week).
Just in general...how many times do legit playoff teams lose three games in-a-row in the NFL? It part of the reason why you couldn't see NE losing to MIA last week. Jason said he would like this game more if Philly had lost...I get that sentiment. I see it and I track it. I think there's something to reasonably good teams (not the very high end or low end) kinda wobbling back and forth from playing well one week, flat the next, and then back, etc. It's almost like win last week, everyone feels a cushion of relief. Lose last week, and it's like a dark cloud you desperately want to chase away. We have the same moods in fantasy...win, and we feel lucky...like we escaped almost tripping down some stairs...WHEW. Lose a fantasy game and everyone on your team sucks and is under-performing and you start concocting wild trades and waiver claims. MIN has two+ games of agitation, back against the wall...and if they weren't bad enough of 'feelings', then this was the team who stopped you from going to the Super Bowl (speaking of coming our flat after the prior week escape from falling down stairs). If Minnesota can't get up fro this one...season over. They could come out flat and lose and be a bad NFL team we overestimated but I feel like I have some protection in that Minny should be all-in here. The Eagles don't have the same pressures...they can lose and still be in the division, plus they're the champs and you're not. The underlying urgency, that I think is real in the NFL, is all on the Vikings side. So, if I feel like MINN is the better team in general + I have motivation factors + I have 3.0 points...I like it.
I think I'm speaking for Jason here too...if Minnesota had won last week, we might lean Philly coming off a bad loss. Not that we have a read on 53+ people's minds, but looking for little edges or trying to avoid 'traps' or 'letdowns', I think Minny has an edge here that puts them in a spot ton underdog win.
In Zimmer's good record years with MIN, he's never lost three in-a-row. Just speaking emotionally...I think the Vikings aggravation level, agitation level, desperation level with this season is boiling over as they enter this game...and that matters on a certain level. Philly has almost none of that today. next week, myabe. Not here and now, not like the Vikings do.