There’s probably not a whole lot I can tell you that you don’t already know about the Vikings next opponent – the Philadelphia Eagles. At 10-4 and currently the leaders in the NFC East, the Eagles have been one of the NFL’s highest-profile teams in 2010 and it’s largely because of their QB – likely the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Michael Vick has taken the NFL by storm once again. He was a sensational player for the Atlanta Falcons from 2001-06, then pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison (plus 2 months of home confinement), made it back to the NFL in 2009 and now is one of the game’s top stars.
Vick entered the 2010 season as a backup to Kevin Kolb. But an injury to Kolb in Week 1 opened the door for Vick and he’s taken advantage of the opportunity. He is a legitimate MVP candidate – my vote would go to Tom Brady right now – and it’s because he’s a lethal threat as a passer and a runner. Vick is 3rd in the NFL with a 103.6 passer rating, has a clean 20-5 TD/INT ratio and is completing 63.2% of his passes. And yet at the same time he’s averaging over 6 yards per carry and has 8 rushing TDs. His ability to avoid sacks, break the pocket and pickup yards on the ground makes him nearly unstoppable.
Philadelphia’s offense ranks #1 in the NFL overall (403.9 yards per game) and #2 in scoring (29.4 points per game), behind only the New England Patriots. Coincidentally, the Eagles come into this weekend’s game with the exact same points per game average that the Vikings had in 2009.
Aside from Vick, Philadelphia’s offense is explosive because of a dangerous WR tandem comprised of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. It was Jackson, Maclin and Vick who keyed Philadelphia’s comeback win last week in New York, as the trio combined to score the final 21 points in the game. The Eagles trailed 31-10 with 8:17 to play, but then went on a 28-point scoring binge and won the game when Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a TD as time expired.
Together, Jackson and Maclin have 16 receiving TDs and over 100 receptions. Maclin has more receptions and TDs, but Jackson has more receiving yards and is the bigger down-field threat, along with being an exceptional punt returner. Also, don’ sleep on RB LeSean McCoy. He’s thrived as the Eagles full-time starting RB in 2010. He has a 5.3 per-carry average, 7 rushing TDs (9 total TDs) and 7 carries of 20 yards or more. McCoy is the prototypical dual-threat RB because he’s reliable as a runner and productive as a pass receiver, with a team-leading 74 receptions.
Defensively, the Eagles aren’t as sensational, ranking 13th overall and 21st in scoring defense. Injuries have been a factor for head coach Andy Reid’s defense, but the group is gutty and frequently comes up with a big play when it’s needed. The big playmakers are DE Trent Cole (9.0 sacks), CB Asante Samuel (7 INTs) and S Quintin Mikell (leading tackler). But there is a host of other players, such as OLB and former Detroit Lion Ernie Sims and CB Dimitri Patterson, who can step up at a given time and make a key play.
As I mentioned, injuries have taken their toll on the Eagles defense. LB Stewart Bradley is out for a bit with a dislocated elbow and just recently Philadelphia lost starting safety Nate Allen. But Reid as done such a nice job building his club that there is enough talent on the roster to make up for these losses.
A few other quick notes on the Eagles…
– Philadelphia is +14 in turnover ratio, which is tied for 2nd in the NFL. The Vikings are dead last in turnover margin at -32.
– The Eagles are surprisingly mediocre in 3rd downs, which is a key NFL stat. The offense ranks 12th with a 41.2% conversion rate and the defense ranks 16th and yields a 1st down 38.3% of the time.
– McCoy leads a rushing attack that is the 4th-most productive in the NFL, averaging 149.7 yards per game.
– The Eagles have won 3 games in a row and can clinch a division title with a win against the Vikings.
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