Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 13, 2013

Nov 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. The Eagles defeated the Raiders 49-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 10, the Philadelphia Eagles faced a Green Bay Packers team without Aaron Rodgers. Turns out that wasn't the only stroke of luck they'd receive during the second half of the 2013 NFL regular season. 

Five weeks after avoiding the 2011 league MVP, there's a chance they'll also avoid the 2012 Most Valuable Player on Sunday in Minnesota. An report suggests that Adrian Peterson won't be able to suit up against the Eagles due to a sprained foot.

Nothing was official as of noon ET on Friday, but even if Peterson does find a way to play Sunday it's safe to assume he'll be extremely limited. 

Of course, the last thing the Eagles want to do at this point is assume anything. They control their own destiny in a big way now, and they might even have a chance to put the NFC East crown to bed before that season finale in Dallas

But they can't slip up in Minnesota. Here's our final preview of the matchup from Philadelphia's standpoint, along with a prediction.


What Philly must do to win, offensive edition

Take some shots early against a weak pass defense and a so-so pass rush in order to build a lead, forcing Minnesota's bad quarterbacks to put the ball in the air. The Vikings are giving up more passing yards per game than all but two other teams and they've allowed more first-half points than all but three others. 


What Philly must do to win, defensive edition

If Peterson plays, don't let him hijack the game. Force Matt Cassel to beat you. That generally applies either way, but it'll be a lot harder if they're defending AP. 


Five most important nonquarterbacks

DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper: Nick Foles will need them to come up big if they're going to jump ahead.

LeSean McCoy: And then, ideally, they'll give it to him throughout the second half in order to put the game away.

Lane Johnson: Because Brian Robison might now be the best pass-rusher on this Minnesota defense and he'll face Johnson all day.

DeMeco Ryans: This is especially the case if Peterson is active.  

NFL's leading rushers
1. LeSean McCoyEagles1305Coming off a career-high 217 yards.
2. Adrian PetersonVikings1221Might not play due to foot injury.
Pro Football Reference

Injury analysis, Eagles edition

Rookie safety Earl Wolff (knee) has been practicing on a limited basis. He hasn't played since Week 10, but they could really use him back in the starting lineup. Other than that, the Eagles are extremely healthy. 


Injury analysis, Vikings edition

We've talked about Peterson. But what's interesting is his backup, Toby Gerhart, has been out of practice with a hamstring injury. They might have to use some dude named Matt Asiata all afternoon. 

Cornerback Josh Robinson remains out, but at least they might get Harrison Smith back in a limited role at safety.


B/R NFC East blog prediction: Eagles 35, Vikings 13

The stars are aligning for the Eagles, who draw the Vikings in what is likely to be their first game without Peterson since 2011. That should make things a hell of a lot easier on Philly's red-hot defense. This team is mentally tough, so I don't think they're slipping up here.