You would think that with Vikings coach Brad Childress going against his former boss, Eagles coach Andy Reid, this game might be like looking in a mirror for these two teams.
Childress and Reid are both offensive-minded coaches. And considering they spent seven seasons together in Philadelphia – Childress was the offensive coordinator for his last four seasons with the Eagles – you would think they share many of the same philosophies.
This is not true.
Childress is a firm believer in establishing the run first and then passing the ball. He loves nothing more than to grind it out, and Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson is pretty good guy around which to center his attack.
Reid, meanwhile, is a pass-first coach and much prefers to see Donovan McNabb throw the ball. Reid mixes in running plays; Childress relies on them.
The Vikings certainly aren't going to go away from this formula on Sunday, especially with Tarvaris Jackson making his first playoff start at quarterback. Jackson might take a few deep shots for wide receiver Bernard Berrian, but that will be only to loosen things up for the ground attack.
The Vikings and Eagles also have different philosophies on defense. Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson will send numerous blitzes at Jackson – the Vikings got a taste of this last week against the Giants. Vikings coordinator Leslie Frazier will blitz some, but mainly he likes to get pressure from the front four.
The Vikings are going to have to be very aware of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook coming out of the backfield. Failure to contain Westbrook could mean a quick playoff ouster for Minnesota.
Jim Johnson confused the hell out of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo last week with his multitude of coverages and blitzes. He wants to do the same thing this week to Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson, but he knows that first his defense must neutralize NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson. The Eagles held Peterson to 3.5 yards per carry last season by swarming to the ball and giving the initial tackler help on Peterson, who is as good a tackle-breaker as there is in the league.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH