Eagles vs. Vikings: TV Info, Preview, Predictions and More for NFC Title Clash

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 15, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles' Corey Clement returns a kick during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings won heart-stopping divisional-round battles to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

Both franchises are looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. They have combined for six Super Bowl appearances, but neither team has been able to finish the year on top.

That could change this year, however, as the Eagles or Vikings will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 4.

Here's a look at the television schedule for the NFC Championship Game as well as one matchup to watch, one X-factor and a pick.


Eagles vs. Vikings Schedule

Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox and Fox Sports Go.


Matchup To Watch

Vikings WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs vs. Eagles CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills

The Eagles have done well against the pass this year, as Football Outsiders ranked them seventh in pass-defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average).

However, they face a tough task on Sunday as Minnesota Vikings wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs roll into town.

Thielen has enjoyed a breakout season, catching 91 passes for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns. He posted games of 89 receiving yards or more eight times in 16 regular-season contests.

Diggs is coming off one of the best plays in NFL playoff history as he scored on a 61-yard touchdown with no time remaining to beat the New Orleans Saints 29-24 in the divisional round.

The former Maryland Terrapin has a nose for the end zone as he scored eight times in 14 games while battling through a groin injury for part of the season.

Eagles cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby need to be at their best against these two, as both Vikings wideouts are capable of breaking a game open on one play. If the Eagles duo slows Thielen and Diggs down, it will go a long way toward a Super Bowl berth.

If not, Thielen and/or Diggs could lead the Vikings back home for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.


X-Factor: Eagles RB Corey Clement

Philadelphia Eagles running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount are punishing downhill runners who will wear down opposing front sevens. They are big weapons when the Eagles have the lead, as they can help control time of possession and milk the clock.

However, they are each limited in the pass game (combined they caught just 18 passes for Philadelphia this year). If Philadelphia falls behind, the pair can't be utilized as much if the Eagles are forced to pass more often.

Therefore, keep an eye on Eagles running back Corey Clement if Philadelphia falls behind. In fact, look out for Clement even if the Philadelphia is within striking distance or has the advantage.

Clement has only touched the ball 84 times this year, but he's done a lot with his limited chances by amassing 444 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. He's a dynamic change-of-pace back who brings a different dynamic to the Eagles running game, as he has juice and can make plays out of the backfield.

The rookie out of Wisconsin received some opportunities on Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons, and he fared well with five catches for 31 yards in addition to a five-yard carry.

For the year, Clement caught 10 passes (on 15 targets) for 123 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles would be wise to run the ball and keep pass-catching routes to short and intermediate distances to avoid turnovers and see less of superstar Vikings free safety Harrison Smith, so we could be seeing Clement more in this matchup.


Pick: Vikings 17, Eagles 16

The lesson learned from the divisional-round games on Sunday is that it isn't safe to assume anything in the NFL. That being said, it would be a bit surprising if this game is anything other than a close, low-scoring contest. A blowout win or shootout don't seem to be in the picture.

It's tough to predict a winner, but the guess here is that Thielen and Diggs get the better of Mills and Darby. Therefore, look for the Vikings to pull off another nail-biter and become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its own home stadium.


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