The Minnesota Vikings (13-3, 1-0 postseason) travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3, 1-0 postseason) in the NFC Championship Game for the fourth postseason matchup between the two franchises. The Vikings, who defeated the Saints 29-24 in the Divisional round, are looking for their first trip to the Super Bowl since the 1976 season (Super Bowl XI). The Eagles are coming off a 15-10 victory over the Falcons at home in the Divisional round. The Vikings, who will be playing in their 10th NFL or NFC Championship game, posted a 6-2 road record in 2017, while the Eagles were 7-1 at home in the regular season. The Vikings 13 regular-season wins were the second most in the history of the franchise (15-1, 1998). Philadelphia’s 13 regular-season wins tied the 2004 Eagles for the most in franchise history.
The Vikings defense led the NFL in yards per game allowed (275.9) for the first time since 1993 and also led the league by allowing 15.8 points per game in the regular season. The Vikings defense limited opponents to 83.6 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and 3.6 yards per rush (fifth in the NFL). Minnesota stifled opponents to 192.4 passing yards per game, second in the NFL, making them the only defense in the NFL to rank in the top three in both rushing yards and passing yards allowed per game.
DE Everson Griffen tied for fourth in the NFL with a career high 13 sacks this season, the third time in his career he has reached double digits (12 in 2014, 10.5 in 2015). LB Eric Kendricks, who has led the Vikings in tackles each of his first three seasons, led the Vikings with 136 tackles (coaches’ stats). S Harrison Smith tied his career high with five interceptions in 2017, tied for fifth in the NFL.
The Vikings offense, which finished 11th in the NFL in yards per game (358.9), has been led by the consistent play from WR Adam Thielen, who was fifth in the NFL with 1,276 receiving yards and eighth in the NFL with 91 receptions, and QB Case Keenum, who completed 67.6 percent of his passes (second in NFL). Keenum stepped in and started 14 games, posting an 11-3 record. Keenum threw 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions, compiling a career-best 98.3 passer rating. RBs Jerick McKinnon *and *Latavius Murray *filled the void left by rookie starter RB *Dalvin Cook,* *helping the Vikings RB group total 2,461 yards from scrimmage this season, the fourth-highest total among all RB groups in 2017.
NATIONAL TELEVISION: FOX
*Play-by-Play: *Joe Buck
Analyst: Troy Aikman
Sideline: *Erin Andrews and Chris Myers*
NATIONAL RADIO: WESTWOOD ONE SPORTS
*Play-by-Play: *Kevin Harlan
Analyst: Trent Green
Sideline: *Ross Tucker*
LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 3:30 p.m. CT
KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.
*NORSEMAN NOTABLES *
The Vikings defense held opponents to a conversion rate of 25.2 percent (51/202) on third downs, the best mark in the NFL, and the offense converted 43.5 percent (94/216) of 3rd downs, which ranked third in the NFL.
WR *Adam Thielen *finished second in the NFL in receptions (32) and yards (428) on third downs. Of those receptions, 25 converted first downs, which also ranks second in the NFL.
QB Case Keenum threw for the third-most passing yards in a playoff game in Vikings history after throwing for 318 yards. Only Jeff George (424 at St. Louis, 1/16/00) and Randall Cunningham (331 at San Francisco, 1/3/98) have had more.
WR Stefon Diggs' 137 receiving yards are the sixth most in Vikings postseason history, and his 61-yard game-winning reception is the sixth longest by a Viking in a playoff game.
The Vikings had 12 scoring drives of 80-plus yards in 2017, eight more than they totaled in 2016.
The Vikings allowed only 27 sacks this season, tied for the seventh fewest in the NFL and had five games without allowing a sack, tying a franchise record for most in a single season.
S Harrison Smith was one of two players in the NFL (Jordan Poyer, BUF) with 70-plus tackles, 1.0 sacks and five-plus INTs in 2017.
The Vikings defense allowed only 20 runs of 10 or more yards in 2017, the fewest in the NFL this season and tied with the 1995 San Francisco 49ers for the fewest in the NFL since 1991.
The Vikings defense held opponents to one conversion on third downs in four games this season, which tied with Arizona for the most such games in the NFL. The Vikings held Tampa Bay to 1-for-6, Atlanta to 1-for-10, Cincinnati to 1-for-13 and Chicago to 1-for-12 on third downs.
STAT OF THE WEEK
According to NFL Research, the Vikings walk-off win was the first time in NFL playoff history that a game has ended on a game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter.
*VIKINGS-EAGLES CONNECTIONS *
Vikings LB Eric Kendricks' older brother, Mychal Kendricks, has been a full-time starter for the Eagles since being drafted in 2012. This weekend will be the second NFL game between the brothers (the first was Oct. 23, 2016). The brothers’ college teams also met on Oct. 29, 2011, when Eric's UCLA Bruins defeated Mychal's Cal Bears, 31-14, in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Vikings LB Anthony Barr also played in the game as a RB.
Vikings QB Sam Bradford played for Philadelphia in 2015, setting an Eagles franchise record for completions in a season (346), which QB *Carson Wentz *broke with 379 as a rookie in 2016. The Eagles acquired Bradford via trade on March 10, 2014, from St. Louis and traded him to Minnesota on September 3, 2016.
VIkings offensive coordinator *Pat Shurmur *spent 13 seasons with the Eagles: 1999-2001 as the OL/TEs coach, 2002-08 as the QBs coach and 2013-15 as the offensive coordinator. Shurmur served as the Eagles interim head coach for the 2015 regular season finale, a 35-30 win over the Giants, after the dismissal of Chip Kelly the previous week.
Vikings Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman, Coordinator of Rehabilitation/Assistant Athletic Trainer Tom Hunkele and Assistant Athletic Trainer Rob Roche all spent time with the Eagles prior to joining the Vikings.
Vikings legend *Bud Grant *played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1951-52. Grant was selected 14th overall by the Eagles in the 1950 NFL Draft but spent 2 seasons playing for the Minneapolis Lakers before deciding to play for the Eagles in 1951.
Vikings RBs coach *Kevin Stefanski *attended St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia before going to school at Pennsylvania.
Eagles DT Beau Allen is a Minnetonka, Minnesota, native and was named to the Minnesota Vikings All-State High School Football Team in 2009.
Vikings assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko *is a native of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, and attended Clearfield Area High School before playing football at the University of Pittsburgh. *
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes joins Eagles LB *Nigel Bradham *(2008-11), CB *Ronald Darby *(2012-14), DT *Timmy Jernigan *(2011-13) and CB *Patrick Robinson *(2006-09) as former Florida State Seminoles in the game.
Vikings RB Mack Brown *was teammates with Eagles TE *Trey Burton and S Jaylen Watkins at Florida.
Vikings DE Danielle Hunter *played with Eagles CB *Jalen Milles while at LSU.
Eagles S Rodney McLeod and Vikings S *Anthony Harris *were teammates at Virginia in 2011.
CB Terence Newman had six tackles and two interceptions at Philadelphia (1/2/11), one of six career games with multiple interceptions. Newman also recorded one of his two career sacks vs. Philadelphia (10/9/05) when he corralled Donovan McNabb.
DE *Brian Robison *registered 2.0 sacks — both on Nick Foles — vs. Philadelphia (12/15/13), one of nine times he has had at least 2.0 sacks in a game.
CB Xavier Rhodes recorded four tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and an interception in the most-recent matchup between the two teams at Philadelphia (10/23/16).
Terence Newman……….21 games (1 postseason), 78 tackles, 3 INTs, 21 PD, 1.0 sack
Brian Robison. ……………4 games, 9 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 TFL
Xavier Rhodes……………..1 game, 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF
Andrew Sendejo………….2 games, 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TFL
Jarius Wright……………….1 game, 4 receptions, 95 receiving yards (23.8 avg.), 43 long
Record vs. Eagles………………………..Vikings 13-13
Last regular season game ……………Eagles 21, Vikings 10 (2016)
Vikings largest winning margin ……21; Vikings 34, Eagles 13 (1963)
Eagles largest winning margin …….35; Eagles 42, Vikings 7 (1980)
Current series streak……………………Eagles 1
Vikings longest win streak……………..7 (1962-78)
*Eagles longest win streak *………………5 (2001-2008)
Most Points, Vikings……………………..48 (2013)
Most Points, Eagles……………………….48 (2001)
Most Combined Points….…….……….78; Vikings 48, Eagles 30 (2013)
Fewest Points, Vikings…………..……..7, (1980)
Fewest Points, Eagles……………………0, (1971)
Fewest Combined Points………………13; Vikings 13, Eagles 0 (1971)
Weather delayed the 2010 matchup between the two teams, pushing it from Sunday to Tuesday. The Vikings won the game at Philadelphia 24-14. QB Joe Webb made his first career start and led the Vikings to victory.
The Vikings won the first seven games of the series.
The Vikings scored 28 points in the fourth quarter of the game on 12/22/85 to help them overcome a 23-point deficit, the second-largest deficit overcome in Vikings franchise history.
The Vikings and Eagles have met three times in the playoffs. Philadelphia is 3-0.
A WIN WOULD...
Clinch a trip to the Super Bowl for the Vikings for the first time since Super Bowl XI (played on Jan. 9, 1977)
Be the first Vikings playoff win against Philadelphia in four attempts (1980 Divisional, 2004 Divisional, 2008 Wild Card)
Move Mike Zimmer's playoff record to 2-1
Give the Vikings their fifth appearance in the Super Bowl (participated in IV, VIII, IX and XI)