Minnesota Vikings (5-9, 4-10 ATS) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-4, 7-7 ATS) NFL Week 16, Sunday December 26th, 8:20PM Eastern Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, P.A.
By Jay Horne, Pro NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Min +14.5/Phi -14.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
In case you missed it, the Eagles stunned the football world last week by rallying to score 28 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to beat the New York Giants 38-31. Capped off by the first “walk off” punt return for a touchdown in NFL history by DeSean Jackson, it was simply one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NFL. The win soared the Eagles into the lead of the NFC East at 10-4 and just one win away from taking down the division crown. The Eagles will now attempt to go after their 4th straight win, albeit in a bit less dramatic fashion this Sunday night when they host the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Vikings have been a team in search for answers this season and dropped their 2nd loss in a row after an embarrassing blowout on Monday night at the hands of Chicago 40-14. QB Brett Farve was not expected to play, but attempted to shake off a sprained shoulder on Monday night which turned out to be a huge mistake. Farve was knocked out of the game with a concussion and he will not play this Sunday night. Therefore, former 3rd string backup in QB Joe Webb will likely get the start this Sunday. Webb completed 15 of 26 passing in relief for Farve on Monday night while totaling just 129 yards and 2 picks. In all fairness, Webb is really not ready to take over behind center and he will likely not post any eye popping numbers against the Eagles defense.
Still, the offense has playmakers that give some hope for the offense. Expect to see a lot of running back Adrian Peterson (if he plays) this Sunday night to keep Webb from giving up any turnovers in the passing game. Peterson has rushed for 1,149 yards with 11 scores this season. Peterson missed last week’s game against Chicago with a knee injury, but will be back this Sunday night. Peterson’s ability to move the ball on the ground will be critical in giving the offense some stability. Last week the Vikings offense gave up 5 turnovers along with big plays on special teams that led to an embarrassing 26 point loss. Not only will the Vikings have to keep from turning over the ball on offense, but they must get a big effort from the defense to limit the Eagles who are well known for their big play capability.
The Eagles offense and big play capability starts at the QB position with Michael Vick who is getting NFL MVP consideration. Last week, Vick completed 21 of 34 passing with 242 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. However, Vick did the most damage with his legs as he broke out multiple big running plays in critical situations to keep drives alive. Vick ended the game with 130 yards rushing on 10 carries and the guy responsible for igniting that huge comeback.
Outside of Vick, the Eagles are loaded with talent. WR DeSean Jackson is a huge big play threat and has racked up 972 yards on the season. Jackson delivered the knockout punch with a 65 yard punt return for touchdown as time expired to cap off the comeback against the Giants last week. Not only is Jackson a big play wide out, but he is equally dangerous in the return game. Also, fellow wide out Jeremy Maclin has been a big contributor this season as well. Maclin caught two 4th quarter touchdowns last week and he is 2nd on the team in receiving with 831 yards on the season.
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With so many dangerous threats in the passing game, the Viking secondary will have their hands full if Vick is able to buy time in the pocket. Also, keeps an eye on youngster LeSean McCoy who has revived the Eagles running game. McCoy carried the ball just 10 times last week but did manage to post 64 yards. McCoy also posted a big performance against Dallas the week prior racking up 149 yards. Therefore, if the Vikings linebacker drops back to help in pass defense do not be surprised if McCoy picks up chunks of yardage between the tackles.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Good teams win and bad teams cover. Historically, NFL double digit underdogs have been a great bet and this situation is no different. Look for an embarrassed Vikings team to come out motivated and keep this game within the spread..