Familiarity breeds competition

The Vikings and Eagles know each other well, especially in the coaching ranks, making Sunday playoff game a competition of which team can game plan and adjust better.

When Brad Childress accepted the offer to become the Vikings head coach in 2006, he did so because he felt it was the most attractive of the open jobs at the time.

Childress' optimism might have been a bit premature given that the Vikings went 6-10 and 8-8 in his first two seasons, but in Year 3 he has finally guided Minnesota into the postseason.

The Vikings (10-6) wrapped up the NFC North title with a 20-19 victory over the New York Giants last weekend and will play the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday at the Metrodome.

That's the same Eagles team for which Childress was an assistant from 1999 to 2005. That means Childress will be going against his former boss and good friend, Andy Reid, for the second time since he left for Minnesota.

The Eagles beat the Vikings 23-16 on Oct. 28, 2007, in Minneapolis. Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb completed 23 of 36 passes for 333 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in the victory.

Childress, of course, is very familiar with McNabb. Childress was hired as Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach by Reid in ‘99, the same year the Eagles took McNabb with the second-overall selection out of Syracuse.

Childress was McNabb's position coach until 2002 when he became the Eagles' offensive coordinator.

"I'd like to think (that familiarity) does (help) but you know I also know playoff football," Childress said. "You talk about breaking that plate of (tendencies) every four weeks in the season. ... I imagine they'll have some surprises. They've got some surprises. I know that. You try to be ready for them."

One thing that won't be a surprise is the amount that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will send blitzes at Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Johnson is known for his blitz packages and Childress saw many of them in action.

If the Vikings aren't able to defuse Johnson's pressures - some of which will be aimed at Jackson and some of which will be aimed at stopping a rushing game led by Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson - this could turn into a long day for the Vikings.

Jackson is going to have to show far more poise than he did last Sunday when Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo blitzed a whopping 80 percent of the time. At least that's the figure Childress came up with from watching the game film.

Spagnuolo is a former Eagles assistant and a disciple of Johnson's so it figures that the latter might blitz even more than the former.

"I guess the good thing is Jim is probably not going to be able to call Steve and talk to him about what he was thinking, what he was looking at," Childress said, alluding to the fact the Eagles and Giants are both in the playoffs. "But he will certainly be able to see some of his stuff. I don't have illusions about that. If we saw about 80 percent blitz this time, we might see 90 percent come next Sunday."

SERIES HISTORY: 23rd meeting, including playoffs. All-time series is tied 11-11, but the Vikings are 0-2 against the Eagles in the postseason. Both of Minnesota's losses (1980, 2004) have come in Philadelphia.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-11 — The Vikings' record against the NFC East in playoff games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Gratifying? I don't know. It's just nice to see a vision come true, but with the same token you know that success is never final. There's a game at the end of the week." — Vikings coach Brad Childress asked if it was gratifying to get his team into the playoffs.


  • WR Bernard Berrian was limited in practice Wednesday because of a sprained ankle suffered on Dec. 21 against Atlanta. Berrian was able to play last Sunday against the Giants and caught a touchdown pass.

  • DE Ray Edwards did not practice Wednesday because of an injury to his left knee and is not expected to play Sunday against Philadelphia.

  • RT Artis Hicks was limited Wednesday because of a partially torn right triceps that has affected him since November. Hicks had missed three of four games before being active for Sunday's regular-season finale. However, Ryan Cook got the start at right tackle. Hicks had replaced the struggling Cook in late November but the move proved to be only temporary because of Hicks' injury.

  • WR/KR Darius Reynaud was not limited in practice after being slowed in recent weeks because of a turf toe injury suffered Dec. 7 in Detroit. Reynaud has been inactive for the past three games.

  • NT Pat Williams did light work in practice Wednesday as he tries to return from a broken shoulder blade.

  • Viking Update Top Stories