The Vikings were red hot but also banged up going into their bye last week. This week, they come out of their bye a bit healthier and they'll look to stay hot on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Kickoff is now just moments away, so here are a few final thoughts on the matchup…
Weather the storm early, then settle in
There's no rain or snow in the forecast. But there could be a storm brewing. It's an energetic and emotional storm. Philadelphia is on board with this year's Eagles team, particularly after their 3-0 start and with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz playing well early in the season. Also, today marks the Eagles first home game in a month, so the home crowd will be charged up and anxious to see their team play again. It will be important for the Vikings to weather the early storm, settle in at Lincoln Financial Field, and navigate the path to victory.
Running on the road
Entering Week 7, there had been 92 games played in the NFL and road teams won 39 (42%) of them. In those road wins, teams are averaging 28.8 rushes and 115.1 rushing yards per game. In two games on the road this season, the Vikings are averaging 26 rushing attempts and 61.5 rushing yards per game. Despite falling short of what most victorious road teams have done on the road, the Vikings have won both of their road games this season, another illustration of Mike Zimmer's team just finding a way to get the job done. With three road games in the next four weeks, though, a more productive ground game could serve the Vikings well.
Get rid of those negative runs
To double down on the rushing game talking point, a point of emphasis for the Vikings heading into the bye was finding a way to reduce and/or eliminate the negative runs on offense. Coach Zimmer mentioned that several times over the last two weeks, including during his last press conference before the bye week and during his taping of Vikings GamePlan this week. His point is well taken, as quick research shows that the Vikings have suffered at least one negative rush on 19 drives this season, with only three of those 19 drives producing a touchdown.
Watch out for the Eagles screen game
There aren't many trends or tendencies to speak of, but the Eagles do incorporate the screen game into their attack and they do it explosively and effectively. A big reason they use the screen pass and a big reason they are good at it is the playmaking ability of Darren Sproles. The former San Diego Charger and New Orleans Saint is now with the Eagles and he can be a back-breaker for opposing defenses. Sproles has several big gains in the passing game this season, including a 73-yard touchdown and gains of 11, 15 and 40 yards in the screen game.
Playing the field (position game)
The Vikings have played the field position game nearly perfectly so far in 2016. The offense has no turnovers, which means it's given the opposing offense no short fields, and punter Jeff Locke has pinned the opposition inside the 20 on 13 occasions. In total, the Vikings defense has taken the field inside its opponent's 20 yard line 20 times this season and has allowed a total of only seven points. Playing the field position game well today would give the Vikings another big advantage, as the Eagles have scored just one touchdown on 11 drives that have started inside their own 20.