This much is certain. Neither head coach is going to be able to surprise the other. Vikings coach Brad Childress was an assistant under Andy Reid for seven seasons so both these gentlemen know each other's tendencies.
It could help the Vikings that Kelly Holcomb is expected to get the start. Holcomb spent most of the preseason with the Eagles and possesses knowledge about the team's defensive players and schemes. The Eagles are certain to add a few wrinkles to try to throw off Holcomb.
However, the player the Eagles really have to worry about is Adrian Peterson. The rookie running back had only 12 carries in the Vikings' loss to Dallas, causing another round of criticism of Childress for his (limited) use of the celebrated youngster. The Vikings have the NFL's top-ranked running game, but Philadelphia's defense is a solid eighth in that category. The Eagles, however, are 18th against the pass, meaning that Holcomb could have a few downfield shots and should be able to help loosen up things.
Minnesota's defense gave up 277 passing yards and 128 on the ground against the Cowboys but allowed a respectable two touchdowns. Childress helped develop Donovan McNabb so he should have some good ideas about how to contain the Eagles quarterback.
The Vikings defense is one of the NFL's best, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Brian Westbrook used on short passes out of the backfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Eagles MLB Omar Gaither. Peterson has an NFL-leading 670 yards rushing and seemingly the only person who can contain him is Childress. Last week, Peterson averaged 5.3 yards per carry but was handed the ball only 12 times. He also caught a pass and returned three kickoffs — something Childress is quick to point out. But with the Vikings sitting at 2-4, it wouldn't be surprising if Peterson starts getting the ball put into his hands more often. Among those who will try to contain him will be Gaither, who is tied with fellow linebacker Takeo Spikes for the team lead with 37 tackles in six games this season.
Vikings CBs Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin, along with rookie Marcus McCauley, vs. Eagles WR Kevin Curtis. The Vikings CBs will all have responsibility for covering Curtis, a player the Vikings tried hard to sign as a free agent last March. Curtis made his first visit to Minnesota and later went to Detroit before deciding to join the Eagles. He leads the Eagles' wide receivers this season with 29 catches and four touchdowns. Look for the Eagles to try to get Curtis matched up on McCauley as much as possible. McCauley plays the left corner in the nickel defense.
Vikings MLB E.J. Henderson vs. Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. Henderson will have his hands full in run support and the pass game with Westbrook, who leads the Eagles with 490 yards rushing on 89 carries and in receiving with 31 catches for 299 yards. Henderson is strong against the run but is not as strong versus the pass.
Eagles RG Shawn Andrews vs. Vikings DT Pat Williams. This is a battle of 320-plus pound sumo wrestlers. If the Eagles want to run the ball, they need to be able to move Williams.
Eagles WLB Takeo Spikes vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. Rookie Peterson has a unique blend of power and speed that has helped him lead the league in rushing.
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook vs. Vikings SS Darren Sharper. Sharper isn't as fast as he once was and doesn't have the speed to stay with Westbrook in the passing game.
Vikings-Eagles Game Plan
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