Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles-Vikings predictions: Monday Night Football picks from our beat writers

Can the Eagles defense contain Justin Jefferson and the Vikings? Or will the Eagles have to turn this game into another shootout?

Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (right) with teammates and defensive linemen Marlon Tuipulotu, Jordan Davis and Tarron Jackson during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (right) with teammates and defensive linemen Marlon Tuipulotu, Jordan Davis and Tarron Jackson during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles will play their home opener Monday against the Vikings. Here are the game predictions from our Eagles beat writers for Week 2.

Jeff McLane

A new regime in Minnesota got off to an impressive start with a 23-7 home victory over Aaron Rodgers and the defending NFC North champion Packers. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has brought with him from the Rams many of the offensive concepts he ran with Sean McVay, and they at least suited Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Co. in the first game. Jefferson is the linchpin, and it’s quite possible the third-year receiver the Eagles infamously passed on will have more catches and yards than he had in his first two unprecedented seasons filling the Cooper Kupp role. He lines up everywhere and is constantly on the move pre-snap. The Eagles will have to be on with their communication if they plan on sliding coverage his way, which is likely.

» READ MORE: Jalen Reagor didn’t deserve the hate he got from Eagles fans

The Vikings offense isn’t a one-man show, though, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will have to balance his commitment to containing Cook with dropping more men into coverage. O’Connell isn’t going to ignore his run game, so it makes sense for Gannon to employ more of his five-man front on early downs. Cousins will be under center a fair amount and play action is always in play. The Eagles’ second-level defenders will need to stay disciplined with their keys to avoid surrendering big plays to Jefferson and fellow receiver Adam Thielen.

  1. Get bonuses and free bets from our experts’ top sports betting apps

On the other side of the ball, Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell is another who comes from the Vic Fangio school. The Eagles offense sees a version of the multiple-front, zone-heavy coverage scheme at home every day and last year had great success moving the ball against Fangio himself. They took advantage of two-high safety shells and should have ample opportunity to do so again with Jalen Hurts and the many weapons at his disposal. A.J. Brown will likely draw the most attention, so Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen should try and get him in motion to reveal the Vikings’ coverages. DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert should get theirs, unlike last week, assuming the offensive line holds up better against the blitz. The Vikings have a number of wily veterans in their back seven with linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks, safety Harrison Smith, and cornerback Patrick Peterson. Their collective speed may not be what it once was, though, and the Eagles could have opportunities to stretch the defense with their receivers.

I think this is a toss-up game. Cousins may not always dazzle, but he doesn’t make many stupid mistakes. He’ll take sacks rather than force throws, so it’s imperative that the Eagles generate a more consistent pass rush. Gannon has yet to deliver an above average performance against a quality offense, so there is genuine reason to wonder how he’ll be able to contain a Vikings team with multiple studs. But the Eagles offense will pose its problems and Monday night could turn into a shootout. I picked the Vikings in my preseason predictions, so I’m sticking with them after getting the opener against the Lions correct, but I don’t feel very strong about it.

Prediction: Vikings 30, Eagles 27

» READ MORE: Eagles film: Scheme, not Jordan Davis, had more to do with run defense struggles vs. Lions

EJ Smith

The Eagles defense has a lot of work to do if this one is going to be close.

Detroit managed 35 points against the new-look group partially thanks to shoddy tackling and partially thanks to some head-scratching schematic choices. Can Gannon get it sorted out in time for Monday night?

Whatever you might think about Cousins in the pantheon of the league’s elite quarterbacks, he’s plenty good enough to take advantage of the Eagles’ defensive scheme. Jefferson is a handful for even the most talented cornerbacks, and Thielen and K.J. Osborn make up a formidable trio of receivers. Cook, like D’Andre Swift, is the type of back that can expose poor tackling attempts as well.

Minnesota’s offensive front has recent first- or second-round picks across the board, but it’s not exactly a strength of the team quite yet. The Eagles defense’s best hope of keeping things under control will be getting to Cousins early and often. Can this group do that, though?

The Eagles’ best hope could be a shootout.

Minnesota has some talent on defense, but the Eagles match up well. Edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith are one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league, but the Eagles have a pretty good tandem in Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson to counteract the two.

Minnesota’s secondary features Harrison Smith, a playmaking safety, and Patrick Peterson, a capable cornerback. The linebacker Kendricks is one of the best at his position as well. Still, Brown and the gravity that should come after his dominant Week 1 performance should open things up. If Minnesota has to start shading a safety over specifically for Brown, Smith, and Goedert will be the beneficiaries.

» READ MORE: Justin Jefferson tops odds for Offensive Player of the Year, but A.J. Brown has value

The Eagles run-game should be a difference-maker as well. As long as the offensive line is healthy and Hurts continues to pose a threat on a keeper, the Eagles should be able to run against just about anyone.

Going into the season, I picked the Eagles to win this game. The defensive performance against Detroit has shaken my confidence a bit, but I still think the Eagles offense can pull this one out for a prime-time win.

Prediction: Eagles 38, Vikings 35

Josh Tolentino

Gannon didn’t shy from his unit’s lackluster performance in Week 1. He began his weekly press conference with reporters Tuesday with an opening statement that acknowledged faults and questionable decision making. The Eagles were gashed by the Lions offense to the tune of 386 total yards, including 181 rushing yards, 23 first downs, and 35 points.

Now, the Eagles host a high-powered Vikings offense that is headlined by the All-Pro receiver Jefferson, Cook, and Cousins. Minnesota’s defense is no slouch, either. The Vikings limited the four-time league MVP Rodgers and the Packers’ new-look offense to just seven points.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they have their own assortment of playmakers. Brown’s debut was one for the record books. The star receiver tied a career-best 155 receiving yards on 10 catches. Hurts helped the Eagles multiple times with his legs. Hurts is the only quarterback in NFL history to post 4,000-plus passing yards and 1,000-plus rushing yards in his first 20 career starts. The Eagles would like Hurts to develop quickly as a better passer and processor, but there’s no denying his explosive play ability has led the team to victories. Over his past nine regular season starts, Hurts is 7-2.

» READ MORE: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is dynamic in perhaps his most mature outing to beat the Lions

Hurts will likely need to distribute the ball more evenly to give the Eagles a chance against the Vikings. Last week, Smith and Quez Watkins both had zero catches, while Watkins did not have a single target. A lack of touches is bound to happen with Brown, Smith, and Goedert expected to lead the passing game, but Sirianni, Steichen, and Hurts must do a better job at prioritizing their top playmakers outside of Brown.

It’ll be a tough task to contain Jefferson, but the Eagles have the personnel to challenge him. If starting outside cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are deployed properly, the Eagles will have a chance to quiet Jefferson in front of what’s expected to be a screeching home-opener crowd.

Prediction: Eagles 24, Vikings 21.

Inquirer Eagles beat reporters EJ Smith and Josh Tolentino preview the team’s Week 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Watch at