Vikings-Eagles: Minnesota an Intriguing Team as Playoffs Commence

Brad JamesCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2009

Although numerous tickets remain unsold for the Vikings-Eagles playoff game, that has more to do with the economic issues in the Twin Cities than the city shunning its football team.

In fact, while college football has the potential for great embarrassment if Utah beats Alabama Friday in the Sugar Bowl (there's no way in hell that the Utes win the national championship if that occurs, and we all know it), four outstanding games should transpire during NFL Wild card weekend.

While it may lack the offensive fireworks of Falcons-Cardinals or Colts-Chargers, or the defensive magnificence of Dolphins-Ravens, the Vikings-Eagles matchup should be good as well.

For starters, the crucial chess match in this game will pit the Eagles' impressive tailback, Brian Westbrook (1,338 yards of total offense and 14 TDs on the season), against a stout Vikings rush defense, which surrendered just under 77 yards on the ground a game in 2008 for the best mark in the NFL.

Now, the Minnesota pass defense is considerably weaker, but we all know that the Eagles have led themselves into ruin when head coach Andy Reid becomes a pass-aholic.

Therefore, they should try to run the ball whenever possible. Westbrook should be able to find holes, even against an excellent Vikings defense. 

Additionally, quarterback play will be of paramount importance in this game, and surprisingly, Tarvaris Jackson (1,056 yards, nine TDs, two INTs) seems to have put his less than stellar past behind him.

However, despite talent at receiver in Bernard Berrian, and to a lesser extent, Sidney Rice, the Vikings don't really want to get into a shootout with the Eagles, as the prodigious Jackson is still not on par with one of the greatest signal-callers of this generation in Donovan McNabb (3,916 yards, 23 TDs, 11 INTs).

If the Eagles' running game proves to be successful, McNabb should be able to find numerous mismatches against the Vikings with weapons such as Kevin Curtis and Hank Baskett.

With all of this information compiled together, I think the Eagles are a team that has gotten hot at the right time, and while the Vikings will put up a good fight, Philadelphia will prevail in the end.

I say the Eagles prevail 34-28 in a game that will be just as good as its three predecessors on Wild Card weekend and thus sets the stage for an excellent divisional round.