Eagles: DE Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox, DT Timmy Jernigan, DE Vinny Curry
Vikings: DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, DT Tom Johnson, DE Danielle Hunter
The Eagles have a solid defensive front headlined by Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. In fact, the pair combines for 9.5 of the 22 sacks. Yet, in comparison to the Vikings, the Eagles got nothing. This is especially the case considering how good Everson Griffen has been. To put in perspective, he has more sacks than Graham and Cox with 10 on the year.
Griffen isn’t the only one deserving of recognition though, Linval Joseph is likely the league’s best defensive tackle against the run, while Danielle Hunter and Tom Johnson are no slouches themselves. Furthermore, the fact they have Brian Robison as a BACKUP shows how crazy deep this defensive line is.
Eagles: OLB Mychal Kendricks, MLB Joe Walker, OLB Nigel Bradham
Vikings: OLB Anthony Barr, MLB Eric Kendricks, OLB Ben Gedeon
To make matters worse on the injury front for the Eagles, they lost starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks to a season-ending ruptured achilles. That alone, makes the difference here. Eric Kendricks has been a beast manning the middle leading the Vikings with 61 tackles, while Anthony Barr has experienced a resurgent season with 46 tackles, including six stuffs.
While Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham are good outside linebackers, Philadelphia just doesn’t have the presence in the middle that they had with Hicks. Giving the clear edge to the Vikes.
Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, S Rodney McLeod, S Malcolm Jenkins, CB Patrick Robinson
Vikings: CB Xavier Rhodes, S Harrison Smith, S Andrew Sendejo, CB Trae Waynes
Philadelphia’s defensive backs are having solid seasons. Jalen Mills already has three interceptions on the year. Malcolm Jenkins is second on the team with 44 tackles. Rodney McLeod has four pass deflections, a forced fumble and an interception. Finally, Patrick Robinson has two picks, helping the Eagles be the sixth best team in turnover differential (+5).
Nevertheless, the Vikings are better considering they boast two of the top players at their positions. Xavier Rhodes may be the best corner in the game as he consistently shuts down the opposing team’s top receiver. Although he doesn’t have an ideal interception total, it’s mainly due to the fact quarterbacks don’t choose to throw at him. To add, Harrison Smith is ranked as the top safety by PFF with an elite 93.7 rating, Trae Waynes leads the team with eight pass deflections, and Andrew Sendejo has 42 tackles in only seven games.
The Eagles defense is no slouch, but Minnesota’s defense is just elite. It’s as simple as that. Statistically, the numbers back this up with the Vikings having the third-ranked defense compared to the Eagles’ fourteenth-ranked defense.
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Eagles: P Donnie Jones, K Jake Elliott
Vikings: P Ryan Quigley, K Kai Forbath
Donnie Jones has the stronger leg with a 46.2 punt average compared to Quigley’s 41.1. Yet, Quigley hasn’t committed a touchback, while Jones has three on the year. Also, Jones’ punts have been returned more often than Quigley’s for more yardage.
As for the kickers, Forbath has only missed one field goal on the year, whereas Elliott has missed three. But, Elliott has converted on all but two extra points, half the amount Forbath has missed. Including the returning statistics, which are pretty similar, I’m giving the special teams battle a push.
All things considered, the Vikings have a distinct defensive advantage on paper, while the Eagles boast a more dangerous offense with Carson Wentz at quarterback. Overall, I’d say Minnesota has enough weapons on offense and a defense that can slow down the Philadelphia offense. Hypothetically, they have a great chance of taking down the Eagles if given the chance. Let’s pray that happens, hopefully in a NFC Championship Game showdown! Skol Vikes!