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Eagles vs. Vikings: Keys to a win

Eliot Shorr-Parks
October 13, 2019 - 8:01 am

Sunday is the beginning of a great test for the 2019 Eagles, as they kickoff their first of three-straight road games. 

Getting their trip started off with a win is crucial, but it won’t be easy, as they head into U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings, a team with arguably the best set of skill players on offense and the best defense they have faced so far this season. 

Here are some keys to getting a win on Sunday, improving their record to 4-2 and avoiding a 3-3 start. 

Get an early lead: “Getting an Early Lead is Crucial” could be the official title of both the 2018 and 2019 Eagles’ documentary. Despite how important the players and coaches know getting an early lead is, however, they rarely seem to get it done. The Eagles have gotten off to slow starts in four of their five games this season, only really dominant from the jump against the New York Jets last week. 

Getting an easy lead is especially important against the Vikings, considering they have Dalvin Cook at running back and a head coach in Mike Zimmer that is praying he gets a chance to run the ball all day with an early lead. Putting the game in the hands of Kirk Cousins, and forcing him to make something special happen, is the main ingredient in the recipe for an Eagles’ win. That starts with coming out red-hot on offense and making an early statement. 

Collapse the pocket: The 2017 Eagles would be able to dominate the Vikings because of the issues they have on the interior of the offensive line. The 2019 Eagles? That remains to be seen. The pass rush might be coming off of a 10-sack game, but that doesn’t mean much considering it was against the New York Jets. The Vikings three interior line spots — both guards and the center — are arguably the three weakest links on their offense. That should be a major issue for Cousins if the Eagles take advantage of it. If Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham don’t spend all day rushing from the inside and collapsing the pocket in front of Cousins, then it might be time to give up on this team ever getting a pass rush when they need it this season. 

Steal possessions: The Vikings defense is arguably the best in the NFL, especially at home. That is an issue for any team, but it is especially problematic for the Eagles, considering the issues they have had making big plays on offense since DeSean Jackson went down. Sustaining long drives consistently against the Vikings won’t be easy, which is why the Eagles will need as many possessions as they can get if they hope to get into the 20’s. Force Cousins into mistakes, make a play on special teams — the Eagles need to do something on Sunday to give their offense extra chances with the ball. 

Wentz has to be special: The Eagles might be 2-0 over the last two weeks, but don’t let their record fool you — they have barely been playing winning football. To win in the NFL you need to be able to throw the ball, and they have struggled to do that the last two weeks. That has to change on Sunday, and it has to start with quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles won’t be able to run the ball to victory on Sunday. They are going to need Wentz to be special throughout the game — not just late, not just on third-downs, not just when they are losing. Wentz needs to come out firing and prove he is the best quarterback in the game. The Eagles won’t win this game if they don’t get an outstanding showing from Wentz. 

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