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Skinny Post: Vikings Ready For 11-Game Season After Bye

Know the Philadelphia Eagles key contributors on offense, defense and special teams heading into the game on Sunday.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — After a week off, the Vikings are ready to get on with their 2016 season.

The 5-0 Vikings are headed to Philadelphia to take on a conference foe.

There are plenty of intriguing storylines in this matchup, but what's most notable is that the teams made a September trade that brought quarterback Sam Bradford to Minnesota.

The Vikings are looking for their ninth straight regular-season win. The Eagles sit at 3-2 this season after dropping their past two contests by a combined eight points.

On the airwaves: The game will be broadcast nationally by FOX (KMSP FOX 9 in the Twin Cities). Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews will be on the call. There is also a national radio broadcast on Westwood One by John Sadak and Mike Mayock. The game also will be broadcast on KFAN 100.3-FM and across the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network by the team of Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Greg Coleman and Ben Leber.

Three things to watch:

Bradford vs. old teamCraig Peters

The Eagles coaches and players entered the month of September expecting big things from Bradford.

"We expected a huge year out of Sam for us," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "I thought he was poised to really take hold of this offense and do well in it."

Bradford has taken command of an offense this season, albeit in Minnesota, after landing here Sept. 3. He has completed 88 of 125 passes (70.4 percent) for 990 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions, tallying a passer rating of 109.8 that ranks second in the NFL. He's managed pressure and been **near perfect** at times.

The Eagles know Bradford's talents, and he has the benefit of having practiced against the defense installed this offseason by Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz.

The familiarity Bradford has with the system and players should provide compelling elements of the game within a game, such as when a quarterback looks off a safety to prevent that player from helping a cornerback cover an intended target.

Rolling on the roadLindsey Young

The Vikings game against the Eagles on Sunday will kick off a stretch in which Minnesota plays three of its next four games on the road. The Vikings road record as of late has been impressive. They've won seven of their past eight road contests. This week, they'll look to snag their third road victory of the season and hand the Eagles their third consecutive loss.

Philadelphia can prove to be a challenging destination for visiting teams.

"Those fans are crazy. They're die-hard Philadelphia fans, and they want to win," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. "They just try to get in your head and try to help their team get a win."

Munnerlyn anticipated the crowd noise to be at an incredibly high level while the Vikings are on offense, but he said the team can handle it.

"You have to try to block everything out, and you have to execute," Munnerlyn said. "That's the biggest key on the road."

Special play from special teamsEric Smith

One reason for the Vikings success on the road is strong play on special teams.

Even going back to Minnesota's Week 1 win at Tennessee, the Vikings were jumpstarted by Cordarrelle Patterson's 61-yard kickoff return to open the second half. Marcus Sherels then had a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown in a Week 3 win at Carolina.

The Vikings road success on special teams can even be traced to 2015. Sherels had a 65-yard punt return for a score in Chicago, and Patterson took a kickoff back 97 yards in Oakland. Patterson also had a 70-yard kickoff return against Green Bay, and Adam Thielen had a 41-yard run on a fake punt against the Packers.

Minnesota might need a big play or two Sunday in Philadelphia. The Eagles are stout on special teams as well. Darren Sproles has seven career punt returns for a touchdown, including two in each of the past two seasons.

"He's just an outstanding returner and yes, I don't like facing him," Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said of Sproles. "I hope we don't have to punt at all on Sunday.

"If we do, we hope we can limit the damage and kick them high and short and net what you punt," he added. "That's kind of what you want to do against a good returner like Darren."

Substantial Stats

— Bradford and Wentz have combined to throw just one interception this season between them. Bradford hasn't thrown a pick in 125 attempts. Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft, has thrown one in 157 attempts.

—Sunday's matchup features four players who have 4.0 sacks this season. Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Linval Joseph each have 4.0 for the Vikings, and Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has the same amount.

— Besides ranking first in the league by allowing just 12.6 points per game, the Vikings defense is also tops in the NFL by giving up just **3.53 yards per play on first down**.

— Philadelphia ranks first in the NFL in average starting field position after a kickoff. The Eagles have started drives, on average, at the 28.3-yard line. The Vikings are second in the league with an average starting field position at the 27.5-yard line after kickoffs.


"So, now it's, for us, I think it's an 11-game season, and we'll see where we're at then." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on his team's mindset after the bye.



Worth a watch

This week's edition of **’96 Questions’** with defensive end Brian Robison might make your sides hurt from laughing so hard. Robison went around the locker room and asked teammates for their take on an old picture of safety Harrison Smith.

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