Posted at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2009
by Chris Dall
I keep going back and forth on this game, as I've done with this team all year long. I think it's for the simple reason that the 2008 Vikings are a solid team with some major flaws. They have many of the ingredients of a team that could go deep into the playoffs: a great running game, a very good offensive line, and a strong defense that puts pressure on opposing quarterbacks. When I look at these factors alone, I see a team very similar to last year's New York Giants.
But as many Vikings fans know, the NFC North champions also have the ingredients that could send them packing early: erratic quarterback play (from both Tarvaris and Gus), poor special teams (kickers aside), and questionable coaching. That last element was never more apparent than during last week's final minute fiasco against the Giants. All these factors could come into play in tomorrow's game against the Eagles.
But right now, I think the Vikings win tomorrow. For one, the Eagles are very similar to the Vikings in the sense that you're never sure what team you're getting. Are you getting the team that stomped the Cowboys last weekend, or the team that tied Cincinnati? I think they're somewhere in between, and maybe closer to the latter.
More significantly, playoff success often relies on special players rising to the occasion, and the two game-changing forces in this contest are both playing for the Vikings. Both Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen have the ability to take over games, and they have both risen to the occasion when needed this year. I see both having big games tomorrow.
On the other hand, if Philadelphia's defense puts enough pressure on Tarvaris Jackson and he starts throwing up jump balls, or if Peterson fumbles a few times, or if Donovan McNabb picks apart the Vikings' secondary, it could be a different story.
I should stop before I change my mind again.
Vikings 24, Eagles 20.
(Photo by Getty Images)