Week Seven Preview: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles

Justin Ekstrom
Oct 9, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels (35) returns a punt for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at U.S. Bank Stadium.

When predicting the Vikings’ schedule at the beginning of this season, few had any inkling this week’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles would be an important battle in the Vikings’ 2016 war against the league.

The Eagles were allegedly on their way to a terrible season, when they traded their starting quarterback. However, their rookie starting quarterback, Carson Wentz has the team sitting at 3-2, all the while looking like he belongs in the NFL.

Coming off their bye week, the Vikings take a 5-0 record to Philadelphia to face the Eagles for a week seven matchup. The game can be viewed on FOX this Sunday at noon, Central Time.

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Essentials to win the game

The Redskins took advantage of offensive tackle, Lane Johnson’s absence due to suspension and the Vikings must do the same. Wentz has looked great at times this season but was unmistakably shaken after being knocked down 11 times this past Sunday.

One major key to victory is winning the turnover battle on a weekly basis. The Eagles are third in the NFL in turnover ratio as their ball-hawking defense is one of the main reasons they won their first three games. If the Vikings can play mistake-free-football in this game once again, they should come out on top.

Possible downfalls to avoid

The Eagles are now the only team to score on a kickoff return in the 2016 season. The Vikings must manage themselves as the touchdown came after an unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the kickoff back 15 yards. An opportunistic team like the Eagles cannot be given any type of spark or they will make teams pay.

Sometimes teams come out after their bye week and get off to a slow start much like the Eagles did in week five. Avoiding that type of lapse is crucial, especially when a team is playing at the level the Vikings were before their bye week.  

Player spotlight

To say the Eagles are “ailing” along the offensive line would be vastly understating their most obvious weakness. Right tackle, Lane Johnson, is serving his suspension and is being “replaced” by rookie, Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The quotations are used in this manner due to Vaitai’s inability to block anyone in a Redskins’ uniform this past week. Lucky for Vaitai, he gets to redeem himself against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter.

Eric Kendricks will be playing against his brother Mychal’s team for the first time in the NFL. Since Mychal also plays linebacker, they will not be on the field at the same time but it will be fun to see how the brothers stack up against one another.

As the Vikings try to repair their ailing offensive line with former number one overall pick, Jake Long, all eyes will be on him if he make an appearance. Brandon Fusco should also be making his return; that will help against super stud defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox.

Although this spot is usually to highlight players that otherwise may not be mentioned, Sam Bradford going against his former team is worth a mention. According to ESPN staff writer, Tim McManus, head coach Doug Pederson does not plan on changing the playbook this week.

Game projection

The Eagles have had a rough time starting games their last two weeks, resulting in two straight losses. Their losses have shown they can almost make a comeback when being down two touchdowns or more. However, Wentz is looking much more like a rookie over the last two weeks when he is forced to rush his throws.

The Eagles try to start fast once again by getting Wentz into a rhythm resulting in the Vikings’ defense having to adjust their pass rush. Once the Vikings figure out the Eagles’ offensive line is weakest up the middle, the sacks start piling up once again.

The Eagles prove to be a tough matchup for the Vikings yet their ailing offensive line cannot keep the Zim Reapers from piling up three more sacks.

Bradford and the Vikings offense will finally turn the ball over but overcome the unfamiliar hurdle of playing from behind. Pete Prisco of cbs.com is picking the Eagles to win this matchup that right now favors the Vikings by two points. 

To be fair, Prisco is picking quite a few of upsets this week and this is a pretty juicy trap game once again for the Vikings. However, Zimmer and the Vikings have shown they can rise above said traps this season and will continue to do so this Sunday.

The Vikings play just well enough after a bye week to defeat the Eagles by a score of 20-16. Bradford gains more trust from his teammates as he shows he can bring his new team back after a mistake.

Justin Ekstrom can be followed on Twitter @thesportscrib21 and be sure to follow and comment about vikings32 on Facebook and Twitter

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