Vikings Offense vs. Eagles Defense
The Vikings have solid options to use against the Eagles.
In the running game, second-year back Onterrio Smith, who will start for Michael Bennett (knee-out), should fare well against the smallish Eagle defensive line. The Viking offensive line has much better size than their defensive counterpart. The Eagle linebackers have good speed but they're not good tacklers so Smith should have a solid game once he gets past the first wave of defense.
In the passing game, with the Eagles prone to the blitz against high-powered offenses, look for the Vikings to use the screen game with Smith or rookie back Mewelde Moore who will fill in for veteran back Moe Williams (ankle-not expected to play). The Eagles will employ plenty of zone blitzes so it's imperative that quarterback Daunte Culpepper finds his "Hot" receiver. The one negative here is that starting tight end Jim Kleinsasser (knee) is out so the Eagles could get some additional pressure off the edge in overload blitzes.
The receivers match up very well against the smallish Eagle cornerbacks. No.1 cornerback Lito Sheppard has enough speed to get down field against even Randy Moss but the knock on him is that he struggles with the ball on the air. Look for the Vikings to run fade patterns inside the redzone. They'll also test Sheppard deep where he struggles with judging passes in the air.
Eagles Offense vs. Vikings Defense
In the running game, the Eagles will face a better than average group of Viking linemen and they will be without a key starting lineman.
The Eagles have lost starting right guard Shawn Andrews (ankle) for the season and will move starting left guard Jermane Mayberry to his spot where Mayberry played a majority of his career. Backup lineman Artis Hicks, who did a solid job last year in extended playing time, will take Mayberry's spot at left guard.
New starting back Brian Westbrook will get plenty of touches in the game and they will try to get him running outside where the Eagles believe they can exploit the Viking defense. However, the Viking linebackers have good speed and might be able to keep Westbrook from running wild. The key for the Viking defense is to keep him running inside. He's one of the most dangerous outside backs in the NFL.
In the passing game, the Eagles will use Westbrook out wide and on screens where he's very dangerous. Look for the Eagles to use lots of two tight end sets where second-year pro L.J. Smith will try to get matched up on a linebacker. The Eagles believe they have a big advantage there. At receiver, the Eagles will go to new no.1 WR Terrell Owens early and often because he has a distinct size advantage over the Viking cornerbacks. The Eagles love to use Owens in the redzone area where he's most dangerous. Because of the injuries to their backup cornerbacks, the Eagles might use more multiple receiver sets to exploit the Vikings lack of depth at the position. A target could be veteran cornerback Terrance Shaw who will see time in nickel situations.
Vikings - Eagles Preview
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