The Week 5 NFL schedule brings us a repeat of last year’s NFC Championship Game as the Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings. At home, the Eagles are listed as a 3-point favorite with the over/under for the game set at 45 points.
The season has not quite gone according to plan for the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Eagles went just 2-2 in September, losing both of their road games to the Buccaneers and Titans. Philadelphia’s two home wins against the Falcons and Colts could have easily gone the other way, so the Eagles could consider themselves a little fortunate to be 2-2.
The Vikings, meanwhile, haven’t won a game since Week 1. Minnesota settled for a tie with the Packers in Week 2 before losing back-to-back games to the Bills and Rams. Few will criticize last week’s high-scoring loss to the undefeated Rams, but it’s hard to fathom how the Vikings could have lost so badly to the Bills in Week 3. At 1-2-1 on the season, Minnesota is becoming a little desperate for a win, as they’re starting to lose ground in the NFC North.
The Hits Keep on Coming
If you’re looking for a reason why the Eagles have struggled to take flight early in the year, look at the offensive line. After Nick Foles was sacked five times over the first two games, Carson Wentz has already been sacked nine times in the two games he’s played since coming back from last year’s knee injury. Against the Vikings, that could be a problem once again. However, Minnesota is currently without the services of Everson Griffen, which has hurt their pass rush this year.
The other problem the Eagles have faced this season is the flurry of injuries to their offense. Mike Wallace is out for the year while Alshon Jeffery has been limited, and the absence of those two has been evident. Jeffery made his return last week and could be a key figure this week against a Minnesota secondary that has been surprisingly vulnerable early in the year.
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Through four games, the acquisition of Kirk Cousins seems to be working out. He’s throwing for over 300 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. However, he’s not getting as much help as he’d like. With Dalvin Cook battling an injury, the Vikings are currently the worst rushing team in the NFL. Minnesota’s receivers have also dropped a few balls in key spots.
However, Minnesota’s biggest shortcoming this year has been their defense. The Vikings can get a pass on last week’s game against the Rams. However, both the Bills and Packers, two teams with plenty of flaws, had considerable success against a defense that was one of the best in the NFL last season. With Wentz having a couple games under his belt since his return, the Vikings face another tough challenge this week.
Neither of these teams has lived up to expectations early in the season, but the Eagles have at least found a way to win a couple of games. Something just isn’t right with the Vikings, and a trip to Philadelphia probably isn’t the remedy. The Eagles are 2-0 at home, and the home-field advantage will continue to help this week. Bet on the Eagles -3 to cover the spread against the Vikings in Week 5.