Here are some numbers to roll around in your head while you wait for the Eagles and Vikings to kick off:
The Eagles have scored at least 26 points in each of their last seven games, and this one should be no different. The Vikings allow an average of 22.4 points per game, 17th worst in the league, and their offense turns the ball over like a millionaire giving out $10 bills. But here's the trouble: The Eagles allow an average of 24.2 points per game, which is 21st in the NFL. That means that the Eagles could need every single point they get against the Vikings. That makes for exciting games. But can you win the Super Bowl that way?
Speaking of turnovers, the Vikings are the worst in the NFL in turnover ratio. They have committed 14 more turnovers than they have forced, and that is good news for the Eagles. The Birds are plus-14 in turnover ratio, tied for second best in the league, and have forced five turnovers and committed just one in their last four victories. The Vikings' rookie quarterback, Joe Webb, has thrown two interceptions in 31 attempts, and the Eagles lead the league with 23 interceptions. You know that cornerback Asante Samuel, the NFL leader with seven picks, will be daring Webb to throw his way.
Talk about domination, the Eagles have beaten the Vikings in eight of their last nine meetings and five straight times. And the Vikings enter the game with two strikes against them already: a rookie interim coach in Leslie Frazier and a rookie quarterback in Webb. If the Eagles lose this game, shame on them. No way the Vikings should win this game under these circumstances. That's what makes it so dangerous.
The Vikings rank 27th in third-down offense, converting on just 33.15 percent of their chances. And that isn't likely to improve under Webb. On the positive side for the Vikes, star running back Adrian Peterson says he wants to play despite a bruised thigh. If he does, Minnesota will have an added weapon on third down. But the Birds may counter by having a defender key on Peterson if he's in there on third and short.
Rushes of 50 yards or more by the Eagles, first in the NFL. Not surprisingly, LeSean McCoy has three of those big gainers. He bolted 62 yards against the Colts, 56 yards against the Cowboys, and 50 yards against the Giants. Backup running back Jerome Harrison had the other big gainer, a 50-yarder against the Redskins. What does it mean? Two things: The Birds can score on the ground from anywhere on the field, and Michael Vick and the receivers do not have to carry the club on their own. Teams that win in February need to have a balanced offense like that.
- Gary Miles