The Eagles (3-2) travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings (3-2) on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Let's get to this week's predictions:
Reuben Frank (2-3)
I don't like the matchups. The Eagles have been terrific against the run, but they haven't faced anyone like Dalvin Cook. They'll get some cornerback help soon, but I'm not sure they have the people right now to slow down Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, not to mention Cook out of the backfield. The Eagles have been efficient offensively - No. 7 in the NFL in yards per drive - but that Vikings defense is allowing just 14.6 points per game and a bit less at home. I just don't know where the firepower to attack a top-10 defense - No. 4 in yards allowed, No. 5 in points allowed, No. 6 against the pass, No. 9 against the run, No. 9 on third down - is going to come from with DeSean Jackson on the shelf. I still think they'll come out of this three-game road trip 2-1, which would get them to 5-3 at the midpoint of the season. But I have the Vikings winning this one.
Vikings 24, Eagles 21
Dave Zangaro (2-3)
Sure, Dalvin Cook is the NFL's second-leading rusher for a reason. He's an explosive player and the Vikings' offensive scheme has been pretty good this season. But they want to run the ball and the Eagles stuff the run better than any team in the NFL. I think this really plays into what the Eagles want.
On offense, the Birds need to figure out how to generate points against a good defense. But I have confidence in the Eagles' ability to score touchdowns in the red zone, which is huge in what should end up being a pretty close game. It won't rain confetti this time, but I think the Eagles still walk out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a win.
Eagles 27, Vikings 21
Derrick Gunn (2-3)
Now that the Eagles have put their practice game against the Jets behind them, it's on to a much more formidable opponent in the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings present all kinds of problems on both sides of the ball. On offense, they have electric RB Dalvin Cook, who is second in the league in rushing and two WRs who can stretch the field. Adam Thielen averages 15.4 yards per catch, while Stefon Diggs is at 15.8. Between them, they have 11 receptions for 20 or more yards. Minnesota's defense is fourth overall, and fifth in points allowed at 14.6 per game.
The Jets' defense held the Eagles' offense to two touchdowns and under 100 yards rushing. The Birds' passing game was less than stellar and young receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins had zero catches between them. DeSean Jackson's absence is severely handcuffing the Eagles' ability to stretch the field. The Eagles have to find a way to get a run game going to help set up the play action. The Birds' defensive front will be thoroughly tested, and if they don't get pressure on Kirk Cousins it could be a long afternoon. Doug Pederson's crew knows what's at stake and he will have them ready. This is going to be physical football at its finest. I think the Eagles will have just a little bit more muscle to strong-arm a win.
Eagles 24, Vikings 21
Ray Didinger (3-2)
The Eagles' run defense has been excellent through five games, allowing an average of just 63 yards on the ground, best in the NFL, but this will be their toughest test. The Vikings' offense is built around the run (166 yards per game) and they run it very well with Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison both averaging well over five yards per carry.
This isn't very complicated. If the Eagles' run defense shuts down Cook and Mattison and forces Kirk Cousins into a lot of second-and-long and third-and-long situations, the Eagles will win the game. If Cook and Mattison are moving the sticks and Cousins can pick his spots with the play-action pass, it will be a long day for Jim Schwartz and company. I like the Eagles in a close one.
Eagles 23, Vikings 21
Andrew Kulp (4-1)
Tough one to call. Like the Falcons in Week 2, the Vikings really aren't that that great, but road games are tough. And where this differentiates from Atlanta is Minnesota's D is legit, holding opponents to 12, 21, 14, 16 and 10 points this season, home or away.
The Vikings' offense, on the other hand, has largely been reliant on Dalvin Cook, and that plays into the Eagles' hands. As usual, this is one of the best run defenses in the NFL - tops in terms of yards per game (63.0), second in yards per attempt (3.2) - which means it could fall on to Kirk Cousins to keep the chains moving.
That sounds favorable for the Eagles, as long as the pass rush shows up for a second week in a row. I like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham to work over the interior of the Vikings O-line and rattle Cousins, perhaps even cause a couple turnovers. That should be enough as long as Carson Wentz and company play mistake-free football on the other side.
Eagles 24, Vikings 20
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