Now alone atop the NFC East, Philadelphia Eagles is in direct control of its own destiny. And with a relatively soft schedule remaining and a season finale with the Dallas Cowboys' porous defense, Philly is poised for a late run to the postseason.
Minnesota is their next opponent and, barring a complete offensive and defensive meltdown, should hardly pose a threat. While it is always a mistake to underestimate the Eagles' ability to have a letdown game, the Vikings are truly one of the worst teams in football right now. Without Adrian Peterson, anything short of a blowout victory would be a huge disappointment.
Here are three matchups to watch during the showdown:
DE Jared Allen vs. LT Jason Peters
After starting the season looking like a shadow of his former self, Jason Peters has since slowly returned to the dominant form that made him an All-Pro player. Looking dominant once again as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker, Peters should be able to make short work of the Vikings D-line.
Against the Detroit Lions, Peters was especially ferocious when run-blocking, which is notable since the Lions entered Week 14 with the second-ranked run defense. With excellent technique, strength and quickness, Peters was able to seal off defenders and open huge holes for Philadelphia running backs.
Take a look at Chris Polk's 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
As you can see, Peters completely manhandled Israel Idonije and opened up a wide hole for Polk, who only had to make one defender miss en route to the score. Thanks to a great block, Polk, frickin' Chris Polk of all people, was able to rip off a long touchdown run.
Jared Allen will be a more difficult opponent. The 31-year-old Allen is still one of the better defensive ends in the game. He currently has seven sacks on the season and could certainly reach the 10-sack mark before the end of the year.
But with Peters back to his All-Pro form, Allen should be no match.
WR Greg Jennings vs. CB Bradley Fletcher
The Vikings may not have much in terms of offensive potency, but Greg Jennings is still an incredibly talented receiver. He just doesn't have anyone to throw the ball to him.
His season has been up and down, but when its up he is the Greg Jennings of old. In his last game, he caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. The Eagles can't afford to sleep on him.
The best bet to containing Jennings would be to play him physically. Bradley Fletcher is the Eagles' top corner, and he will most likely be tasked with shutting down Jennings. While Fletcher does not possess elite speed, he has great awareness and a high football IQ. If he can prevent Jennings from getting separation, it would be a huge blow to the Vikings' already anemic passing attack.
DT Kevin Williams vs. C Jason Kelce
Jason Kelce was recently awarded the Ed Block Courage Award, a well-deserved honor. Not only has Kelce come back from a serious injury, but he has thrived, being now arguably one of the league's top centers.
Against a ferocious Lions D-line, Kelce, along with Evan Mathis and Jason Peters, opened up huge holes for McCoy, shredding one of the league's best run defenses.
Look at how Kelce and Mathis work together flawlessly to spring McCoy for a 40-yard touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
Mathis does a fantastic job of sealing off the D-lineman. And with DeAndre Levy closing in, Kelce quickly seals him off to allow McCoy to break loose in the open field. And for McCoy, that's when he is most dangerous.
Levy may be a relatively unknown player, but he is actually one of the better young linebackers in the NFL, having amassed 100 tackles already this season. But Kelce completely takes him out of the play with great awareness and proficient run-blocking.
Expect Kelce to continue to have success against Kevin Williams. The 33-year old Williams was once a Pro-Bowl player, but age has caught up to him. He shouldn't pose a problem for Kelce, who gets better and better every season.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo