What a difference a year can make.
A year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles were in the midst of losing 11 of their final 12 games, on their way to a 4-12 record. Behind a dominant rushing attack led by Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings were playing their way into the playoffs. The script has been flipped this season. The Vikings enter the game Sunday at 3-9-1 overall and out of playoff contention. Philadelphia, behind the most dominant rushing attack in the NFL, is 8-5 and leading the NFC East.
With just three regular season games remaining, the Eagles control their playoff destiny while the Vikings can only play spoiler.
Meet the Vikings
The Vikings were far from a perfect team last season, but were able to do enough to mask their flaws and make the playoffs. Those issues have been exploited this season, and while Peterson continues to carry the offense, he hasn't matched his insane production from last season. To make matters worse for Minnesota, Peterson won't play this week due to a foot injury.
It appears Minnesota could be without running back Toby Gerhart as well, per Sean Jensen of K-TWIN in Minnesota.
When the ball stays on the ground, the Vikings are solid offensively and defensively. There are massive issues, however, when either Minnesota or opponents choose to throw. The Vikings have shuffled quarterbacks this season, and Minnesota hasn't had much success regardless of who is under center. Offensively, the Vikings are 27th in the league in pass Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), according to Football Outsiders. Minnesota's pass defense is even worse, checking in at No. 28 in the DVOA rankings.
Nick Foles has had some big passing games for the Eagles this season and Philadelphia's defense is much better against the run than the pass. Neither factr bodes well for Minnesota this week.
Meet the Eagles
Philadelphia is coming off a 34-20 win in the snow against Detroit. Like it has much of the season, the Eagles' rushing attack led the way. LeSean McCoy ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns as part of 299 yards on the ground for the Eagles, 223 of which came in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles have by far the best rushing attack in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. With Foles at quarterback, Philadelphia isn't bad throwing the ball either, checking in as the No. 6 passing offense based on DVOA. The Eagles are also efficient offensively, ranking second in the NFL in passing yards per attempt and first in rushing yards per attempt.
Philadelphia isn't great defensively, but has been better in recent weeks. The Eagles are better against the run than the pass which should help against a run-first team like Minnesota.
Local Takes: Minnesota
I won't be upset if they lose their final three games, because those losses will serve us better in the future. Imagine if we hadn't lost that Redskins game with Joe Webb 2 years ago heading into the 2012 Draft. Could we have had a legitimate shot at a quarterback like Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck instead of Matt Kalil? We find ourselves in an eerily similar position again this season. It's all about the future, and looking for the silver lining my friends.
Local Takes: Philadelphia
9) Philadelphia Eagles - Hottest team in the NFL. Legitimately good. First place in the NFC East.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Ridiculously Early Draft Debate Time!!!! http://t.co/Tyybg11Onu— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) December 9, 2013
Jason Kelce Named Eagles' Ed Block Courage Award Recipient http://t.co/eOwqjBYjNE— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) December 10, 2013
@MNBrianHall -- Vikings writer
Looking up some Kevin Williams stats and where he stands, and amazing to see how far ahead John Randle is of any DT in career sacks.— Brian Hall (@MNBrianHall) December 10, 2013
@RoobCSN -- Eagles writer
The @fboutsiders' formula has the Eagles with a 67.1% chance to make playoffs, 63.8% chance to win NFC East, 3.5% chance at a 1st-round bye.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) December 10, 2013
The line for this game started at -2.5 in favor of the Eagles. Adrian Peterson will likely sit this one out. The only thing worse for the Vikings would be starting Josh Freeman.
The pick: Eagles
The Eagles opened the week as 2.5-point road favorites, according to OddsShark.com. The total opened at 51 points.