|PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-6-1)
|MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6)
|January 4, 2009
|3:30 P.M. CST
|Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
|Know Thy Enemy:
|Bleeding Green Nation
|Vikings 22, Eagles 19
|Eagles 26, Vikings 14
Well, this is it, folks. . .the moment that we've been waiting for since 2005 (or 2001, if you're talking strictly about home playoff games). The Beloved Purple will be taking the field in January for the first time in the Daily Norseman era to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, who many experts have already pegged to move on to next week's divisional playoffs.
Surprisingly, on a personal level, I'm way, WAY less nervous about the Vikings this weekend than I was last weekend. That doesn't mean that I'm expecting them to go out and just roll the Eagles this afternoon (though I am picking them, naturally), but I'm much more optimistic now that they're in the post-season than I was when their January fate was still in doubt.
That said, I expect today's game to be quite a nail-biter. The Eagles are a good, if fairly inconsistent, football team. I don't think they're as good as they looked in their 44-6 pasting of the Cowboys last weekend, but I don't think they're as bad as they looked in their 10-3 loss at Washington the previous week, either. They fall somewhere in between. . .much like the Vikings do.
The Vikings have two very obvious keys in this game, one on offense and one on defense. Offensively, Adrian Peterson needs to hold on to the damn football, and Tarvaris Jackson has to not make costly decisions in the face of the blitzes he's going to be seeing from Philly this afternoon. If the Vikings can go through this game with no more than one turnover, they should be able to win. The Eagles thrive on turnovers and pressure, and the Vikings really need to consider throwing in some screens and swing passes early in the proceedings in order to negate that a bit.
The defensive key is even more simple. . .contain Brian Westbrook. The Eagles' receivers are, for the most part, not particularly scary, but Westbrook's versatility makes him a real monster and the one guy that the Vikings really need to key on. Note how the key is not stopping Westbrook, because it's very rare for him to be completely stopped, but containing him and/or slowing him down is something that this Vikings' defense is capable of doing, in my opinion.
We're about 3 1/2 hours away from game time, ladies and gentlemen. Sit back, relax, grab your beverage of choice, check out the early game, and discuss all the playoff action right here.