When Minnesota and Philadelphia face off tonight for the NFC Championship game, Vikings fans may recognize a familiar matchup.
Xavier Rhodes is used to seeing Alshon Jeffery in a Bears jersey, but this time around he will go up against the receiver in Eagles Midnight Green.
Jeffery, now in his sixth NFL season, has scored more against the Vikings than against any other team. In nine games against Minnesota, Jeffery has seven touchdowns. Rhodes and the Vikings most recently saw Jeffery in the final game of the 2016 regular season, when he was held scoreless – and made just one catch for 10 yards – at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Eagles signed Jeffery as a free agent this offseason and inked him to a four-year extension in December.
In his first season in Philadelphia, the 27-year-old played 16 games and recorded 57 catches for 789 yards and nine touchdowns. The 2017 season marked the second-highest scoring season of his career after 2014, in which he scored 10 touchdowns. However, it was his third-lowest yardage total since being drafted in 2012.
In his past three outings against Minnesota, dating back to December of 2015, Jeffery has totaled 83 receiving yards and has scored two touchdowns. In two of those three games, he was limited to just 10 yards through the air.
When questioned about the impending matchup by their respective media contingencies this week, Rhodes and Jeffery each expressed respect for the other.
"He's pretty physical at the line," Rhodes said. "I mean, once the ball is in the air, there's a good chance that he'll come down with it. You have to be pretty aggressive with him."
Added Rhodes: "I've been going against the guy my whole career, basically."
Jeffery said he's appreciated the "good battles" that ensue when he and Rhodes step on the same field.
"He's a great competitor; we like to compete against one another," Jeffery said. "I mean, he's strong, physical. I look forward to the battle."
Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson is aware of the game history between the former divisional rivals who saw each other twice a year.
Pederson told media members that he did go back and watch some Vikings-Bears tape to get a look at the way Jeffery and Rhodes played each other, but he added that he takes it with a grain of salt.
"I've gone back and looked at that matchup in particular, just to see the battle that went on and the types of things that Alshon did against him and the coverage technique that [Rhodes] used. Does it apply to this game? Maybe a little bit.
"I mean, I think Alshon's a better player; I think [Rhodes is] a much better player, obviously, and he's playing with a lot of confidence," Pederson continued. "It's going to be another great matchup Sunday evening."