Minnesota Vikings (5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)
Week 7 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MIN -2.5/PHI +2.5
Over/Under Total: 40
The Minnesota Vikings come to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to face the Philadelphia Eagles in a big NFC matchup. The Vikings have begun the season with flair, winning their first five games and covering the spread each time. Not many thought they could overcome the loss of key personnel and still thrive. But with some surprise performances on offense and a defense that looks to be among the league's best, the Vikes have established themselves as early contenders in the NFC. The Eagles, meanwhile, have seen their 3-0 start go to 3-2, following a tough 27-20 road loss to the Redskins on Sunday, Can they get back on the right track against The Vikes at home this week?
After winning five straight games, the Vikings were recipients of an early bye-week. Just before the bye, they won their 5th in a row with a dominant 31-13 win over the Texans. That was their third win at their new digs at U.S. Bank Stadium. They've won twice on the road with a 9-point win over the Titans and a 12-point win over the Panthers. After the week off, they look to resume their winning ways in a tough road spot.
These teams had some dealings before the season, as the Eagles traded starting QB Sam Bradford to Minnesota, as the Vikes lost Teddy Bridgewater to an injury. Bradford faces his old team this week and that could figure into the storyline. It seems to have worked out for both teams, as Carson Wentz was propelled into the starting slot by Philly and has thrived, while Bradford just might have saved the Vikings' season by filling in so well. Bradford is completing over 70% of his throws and has yet to throw a pick.
The Minnesota offense wasn't supposed to be very good and after losing Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, the future looked dim. And truth be told, it's not a very explosive group. They're efficient, however, and get the most of what they have. Bradford connects well with Stefon Diggs, TE Kyle Rudolph, and emerging receiver Adam Thielen. Cordarrelle Patterson is a threat as a receiver, but mostly as a return man. And Marcus Sherels has already returned two punts for touchdowns. Throw in a couple defensive touchdowns and it can take a bad offense and make it better. But in terms of total yardage, the Vikings are ranked 30th and are dead-last in rushing, the unfortunate byproduct of Peterson being out of action.
Alas, the Vikings' defense is the lynchpin of the whole team, a fearsome unit run by mastermind defensive savant Mike Zimmer. And with an extra week to plan, one shouldn't expect much dip this week. They are giving up a scant 12.6 points a game and with all opponents scoring between 10-16 points this season, they are also consistent. They've been a top unit against both the run and the pass. The line has been top-notch, as Everson Griffen, Lival Joseph, and others have been making an impact. The middle with the UCLA connection Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, with vet Chad Greenway has been excellent. The secondary is led by rising corner Xavier Rhodes with erstwhile Terrence Newman. So far, there are no complaints here. Through 5 weeks, they were first in sacks and tied for first in turnovers.
The Eagles have seen a few things go wrong in recent weeks. First came a bye week after week three that probably came too soon and killed a bit of their momentum. They looked to be on their way to a win against the Lions after the bye, before a late turnover and some Detroit theatrics led to a loss. While they hung in there against the red-hot Redskins in the first half, they were a step behind in the second half. One thing that has been killing them lately is penalties, as they were flagged a bunch on Sunday, as they were in Detroit.
Carson Wentz has been a revelation as a rookie who was supposed to be holding a clipboard this season until some late player moves thrust him into the starting role. His 11-for-22 passing performance with 179 yards and no TDs on Sunday was his low point of the season, with 14 of their 20 points coming from the defense and special teams. Ryan Mathews bounced back OK from his bad game the previous week, but the offense was decidedly flat and unable to mount a comeback or much of anything other than a few field goals. The line has also not been at its best, with Wentz sacked five times on Sunday after also being pressured abundantly against the Lions.
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The Philly defense has also seen their previous fire wane in the last two weeks. The secondary has been giving up bigger plays, though they got a pick-six from Malcolm Jenkins. And a good Philly run-defense really fell flat on Sunday, giving up a huge day to Matt Jones, with the Redskins gaining 230 yards on the ground. They allowed the 'Skins to convert over half of their third downs. And for the most part, they were just sort of "there." The 27 points they allowed in their first three games was probably an unrealistic portrayal of the this "D," but they've since allowed 51 points in their last two games and we're not seeing some of the stoutness, clutch, and playmaking ability on this side of the ball.
That 3-0 Eagles start seems like it was a long time ago. A win here is really what the doctor ordered or some bad thoughts can begin to set in, if they haven't already. They land in this spot with a thud of sorts, while the Vikings are sailing into this week rested and on a roll. Their desperation certainly surpasses that of the Vikings at this point, but that alone can't win games. We'll see if the Eagles can overcome their issues on both sides of the ball. And in reality, they had one so-so game and one against the Redskins where they weren't very good—hardly a cause to start sounding the alarms. I like the home dog in this spot.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Philadelphia Eagles plus 2.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting on the Minnesota vs. Philadelphia game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!