Week 2: Eagles Preview & Prediction: vs. Vikings

Date & Time: September 19th – 8:30 P.M. ET

Location: Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field

Network: ABC/ESPN+

  • Eagles Injury Report:
    • NONE
  • Vikings Injury Report
    • OUT
      • CB Andrew Booth Jr.

Matchup Preview:

Fresh off their hard-fought season-opening victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, the Eagles will be in front of their home fans at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night when they take on the Minnesota Vikings.

They come into this matchup with some questions following their 38-35 victory over the Lions.

Philadelphia seemingly had no answers for Detroit’s rushing attack and that manifested itself to the tune of 181 yards on the ground for Detroit last week. They also registered the 6th lowest pressure rate in the NFL.

The entire picture when looking back on the matchup becomes especially concerning when you consider two things:

  1. ) The Eagles added players in the offseason specifically to upgrade their performance in these areas (Jordan Davis and Haason Reddick)
  2. ) The team headed into Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night will feast if these issues roll over into week 2.

Nevertheless, a win is a win and the Eagles walked out of Ford Field with one. They amassed 455 yards of total team offense, including 216 yards on the ground.

The Vikings’ offense moved like a well-oiled machine against the Packers, racking up 395 total yards, the 6th highest yards per play rate in the NFL at 6.5, and the 4th highest yards per pass attempt at 8.7.

Justin Jefferson was the star of the show, racking up 184 yards and two touchdowns on 9 catches.

Defensively, Minnesota stifled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. Green Bay was ineffective on third down, converting just three of their nine attempts. The Packers also converted on just one of their three red zone trips. Minnesota made life difficult for Green Bay and they did it while sending a blitz on just 18.6% of their defensive snaps (for comparison the Eagles blitzed on 25.6% of their defensive snaps).

With similar philosophies on both defensive sides of the football, this matchup will surely be an entertaining one. Let’s take a look at some keys to victory for the Eagles.

Keys to Victory:

A lot has been made about the Eagles’ ability (or lack thereof) to stop the run. Lions starting running back D’Andre Swift ran for a career-high 144 yards, much of which came when the Eagles were in their 4-2-5 nickel package with some pairing of Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Marlon Tuipulotu, and Milton Williams at defensive tackle. Noticeably absent was rookie DT Jordan Davis, who was drafted specifically because of his ability to clog the middle and stuff the run.

When Davis was on the field, the Eagles’ defense allowed 2.9 yards per carry. Conversely, when he was off, they allowed ten yards per carry. Simply put, Davis should see more than 22 snaps. That means more 5-2 defensive alignment in an effort to stifle Dalvin Cook.

Offensively, the Eagles were able to move the ball both through the air and on the ground. Much was made throughout the week about Jalen Hurts’ propensity to target A.J. Brown during his first game in an Eagles uniform. Brown racked up 155 yards on 10 catches. Those numbers are the most receiving yards an Eagles player has amassed in his first game with the franchise.

Theoretically, there is some reason to be alarmed at the lack of receiving production from elsewhere, but this is why the Eagles traded for Brown and gave him $100 million. Brown was acquired to raise Jalen Hurts’ ceiling as a passer, and in week one he did just that.

Yes, Hurts could stand to get the ball to weapons like 2nd-year wideout DeVonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert, and he’ll have to on Monday night.

Against the Vikings and new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, opportunities will likely be harder to come by.

Minnesota blitzed Aaron Rodgers on eight of his 34 dropbacks. Against the Lions, Jalen Hurts was blitzed 21 times (48.8% of his dropbacks). Donatell, who like Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, is more than comfortable living in the two high coverage shell world. Donatell is a member of the Vic Fangio coaching tree and, like Gannon, runs the same basic structure of the Fangio defense, featuring heavy amounts of quarters/cover-2/cover-6/cover-8.

It will be an early test for Jalen Hurts, who will deal with a ton of pre/post snap rotation and differing looks from Donatell. The same running lanes that were available against the Lions won’t be there against Minnesota. A big key on the offensive side of the ball for Hurts will be his ability to stand in the pocket and find holes in the different zone looks he’ll see on Monday night.

Matchup to watch:

The X-Factor of this matchup will be Jalen Reagor (kidding)…it will be Justin Jefferson.

Jefferson had a career day in the season opener. And there isn’t a player in the NFL who can singlehandedly eliminate him. But there are things that can be done somewhat to mitigate him. If I had to bet, I’d speculate that we see Jonathan Gannon employ some man match quarters looks in an effort to defend Jefferson.

If the Eagles decide to man up on Jefferson and have a safety over the top, they have the personnel to do so with Darius Slay and either safety (Chauncey Gardner Johnson or Marcus Epps).

It will come down to how Gannon wants to go about it, and if history is any indicator, Jonathan Gannon will likely play a ton of zone coverage (like Minnesota) and live or die by that.

Bold Prediction:

The Eagles have two receivers go over 100 yards receiving – A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

Game Prediction:

Pick: Eagles 31, Vikings 23

The Eagles have to get after Kirk Cousins, who was pressured at the 7th highest rate in the NFL in week one. History has shown, when Cousins is uncomfortable, he tends to make mistakes. With Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Haason Reddick, and Josh Sweat, the Eagles certainly have the personnel to get after Cousins. I think they will, which will lead them to a victory in their home opener.

Stats via Pro Football Reference

Cover Image Credit: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Author: Pierrot Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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