Reuters/ New York
Less than two years ago, the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles were battling in the NFC Championship Game. On Sunday, the Vikings will host the Eagles as both teams look to continue to rebound from slow starts to the season.
The Eagles (3-2) are on a two-game winning streak, having defeated the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago and the New York Jets last weekend. The Philadelphia defense held the Jets to 128 total yards.
The Vikings (3-2) are coming off of a 28-10 shellacking of the New York Giants in New Jersey. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins had an excellent game, completing 22 of 27 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.
The teams met last October in Philadelphia, with Minnesota pulling out a 23-21 victory. Cousins was 30 of 37 for 301 yards, with Stefon Diggs making 10 catches for 91 yards and Adam Thielen snagging seven balls for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles running back Jordan Howard is off to a good start with his new team, rushing for 248 yards and four touchdowns on 53 carries (4.7-yard average). Howard played his first three seasons with the Chicago Bears, meaning the Minnesota defense has seen the physical back plenty of times before.
“He’s very physical, he’s got really good feet,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He runs with his pads forward, so you make contact with him on second-and-8 and it ends up being (like) second-and-4. So we’re going to have to do a great job tackling him, being in the right plaace and getting extra hats on the ball. He’s a physical, physical runner.”
Despite their success on the field recently, the Eagles have been dealing with the injury bug. Among the players who did not participate in practice Wednesday were wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen), defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (foot), cornerback Avonte Maddox (concussion and neck) and cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring).
The Vikings would love to see an increase in production from Diggs, who has 16 catches for 253 receiving yards and one touchdown after he finished with 101 receptions for 1,021 yards and nine TDs in 2018. Last week, whispers about Diggs being unhappy in Minnesota became to circulate, and he fueled the speculation by saying, there is “truth to all rumors.”
However, Diggs said Wednesday, “I never said I was unhappy or uncomfortable with my role. I said I wanted to win - that’s where my frustrations were. That’s where it kind of got misconstrued last week. I never said anything about the comments y’all were saying, I moreso kept it focused on: I want to win. When I don’t win – when we don’t win, rather – I’m frustrated.”
The Sunday game will be the first of three straight road games for Philadelphia. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the NFL scheduled the three road games because the league anticipated the Philadelphia Phillies making the baseball postseason.
“I was excited, get on the road, three great hotels,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “I mean, it is what it is, honestly. We don’t get a chance to make the schedule. We know who our opponents are. We just don’t know when and where we play them.”
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