Sunday is the day that Eagles fans have been dreaming about. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Lincoln Financial Field will be absolute bedlam as fans will start poring in for the game about six hours before it even starts. As the Vikings prepare to enter a hostile environment, which obviously should be a huge advantage for the Eagles, there are other match ups to concentrate on leading up to kickoff.
The first match up that will decide this game is the most obvious. Nick Foles playing against the stingy defense of the Vikings will be a test for the quarterback. The Vikings defense was one of the fiercest in the league and to face a back up quarterback with a Super Bowl trip on the line is tops on their holiday wish list. The corner backs for Minnesota tend to play press coverage and during the regular season they were known to stifle receivers at the line of scrimmage. It will be interesting to see how Doug Pederson leads his offense as Nick Foles threw a lot of quick passes this past Saturday against the Falcons. Pederson changed the offense so Foles could get the ball out of his hands quick. With the Vikings press coverage the receivers for the Eagles will need an extra second of two to run their routes which might cause Foles’ timing to be off.
On the flip side the match up between Case Keenum and the Eagles defense should be as essential to this game as the Eagles defense has a huge confidence boost holding Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons to just ten points. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have a more explosive offense than the Vikings and the fact that Case Keenum actually started the season as the third stringer bodes well for the Eagles defensive mindset. His mobility is a huge strength for this offense and the Vikings offensive line was improved this off season which was essential to the Vikings success this year. The Eagles aren’t a huge blitzing team but they are known for their defensive line pressuring the quarterback. With the pressure coming to Keenum, it will be vital for the Eagles pass rushers to rattle him in order to limit the down field throws to Adam Thielen.
The most important match up going into Sunday’s game, however, is how the kickers for each team will preform on the brightest of stages. Sure this isn’t really a match up as the two kickers will only be on the field for a few plays but due to the evenly matched up teams this game has a good chance of coming down to a late field goal. Kai Forbath has a strong leg but also had the advantage of kicking in doors all year. Jake Elliott kicked a 61 yarder earlier in the season to beat the Giants and right before half time last week he had a clutch field goal of 53 yards outside in the cold weather. Both kickers have proven throughout the year that they are able to handle pressure but this game will be the biggest game of their life. Both of these players might have the final say of who gets to represent the NFC in Minneapolis.
It is unorthodox to say that the number one and number two seeds in a conference have something to prove but on Sunday in Philadelphia that will be a certain aspect. Both franchises have not yet hoisted the Lombardi trophy and having the chance to change that this year is huge for both organizations. These teams do seem evenly talented and this game should be entertaining to say the least. Winning the key match ups will be the reason why one team wins and the other loses. Their prize would be a Super Bowl appearance and maybe even a life changing moment.
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