Eagles-Vikings Playoff Preview

Even without star receiver Terrell Owens, the Eagles will still pass the ball more than they'll run it. Philadelphia has not played a meaningful game since losing the explosive Owens to injury.<br><br> Minnesota heads into Philadelphia confident and fresh off an upset victory over the Green Bay Packers in the first-round of the playoffs.

What They have to Do to Win in the Divisional Games

Minnesota at Philadelphia

What the Vikings have to do to win:

Offensively, the Eagle run defense has been inconsistent to say the least this season so we would run the ball early. They also love to blitz so they should call running plays that are usually effective against those types of defenses. Diversifying the play calling will help keep the Eagle defense off balance.

When the Eagles blitz, quarterback Daunte Culpepper must do a good job of finding a "hot" receiver. We expect tight end Jermaine Wiggins to be a big factor in this game. Culpepper likes to use him as an outlet receiver against the blitz. Running backs Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith are also good outlet receivers against the blitz and either player is capable of taking a dump-off pass for big yardage.

Pass protection will also be a key in this game. If veteran running back Moe Williams (ankle) can't play or is limited, they will have to find a way to chip on a blitzer. We expect the Eagles to pick on tight tackle Adam Goldberg so they'll need to help him out in protection.

The Eagles tried to take star receiver Randy Moss out of the game in their first matchup by keeping a safety over the top. If the Eagles do the same thing this Sunday, they'll need another receiver to step up in the passing game since the rest of the receivers will receive single coverage. Moss and no.2 receiver Nate Burleson has a good size advantage over the Eagle cornerbacks so that should become a factor inside the redzone area.

Defensively, the Vikings, like the Eagles, have been inconsistent against the run. However, they have really come on in that area lately. The Eagles love to throw the football so stopping the run shouldn't be that big of an issue. When they do run it, they'll have to be disciplined and not give up any big plays.

Even without star receiver Terrell Owens, the Eagles will still pass the ball more than they'll run it. We would move from playing zone pass defense to man since the Eagles don't have a receiver that really is a playmaker. This would force the Eagles to have to find another way to move the ball down field.

The big key to stopping the Eagle offense will be to control two players—quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook. McNabb may run more than he has since Owens will be out of the lineup. If he does, the Viking defense has to keep him from breaking off long runs. Westbrook will be move all around including in the slot and out wide. It's imperative that they are discipline in coverage and try to box Westbrook in from making big plays.

What the Eagles have to do to win:

Offensively, the Eagles won't change their identity with or without Owens so look for them to pass at least 60% of the time. Other than Westbrook, they'll need to find other players to step up and make plays. The Eagles should go to more multiple receiver sets where it makes it easier to run the football out of one-back sets. When using Westbrook out wide or in the slot, the Vikings will be so preoccupied with him that veteran back Dorsey Levens should be effective running the football. Levens could have a nice game on Sunday if the Eagles are willing to give him at least 10 carries or more.

If the Vikings go to man-press coverage, the Eagles will need to keep their receivers in motion to get off of the jam. If their receivers have a hard time getting open, they'll need to find another way to move the ball down field. Second-year tight end L.J. Smith could be a factor in this game as the Vikings don't cover tight ends well and Smith has the kind of athleticism that could give their linebackers and defensive backs problems.

Defensively, they have to pressure Culpepper in order to take him off of his rhythm. Culpepper has become good at improvisational plays this season but that's what you want him to do—throw the ball underneath and not down field.

Expect the Eagles to bring a variety of blitzes and we also expect them to go after the right side where Goldberg resides.

Like they did in the first matchup, they should go with a safety over the top to take away the big plays to Moss down the field. The Eagles will take their chances against Burleson and veteran receiver Marcus Robinson in single coverage.

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