If someone told you before the season began that on Tuesday, December 28, the Eagles would be hosting the Vikings as the NFC East Champions with MVP candidate Michael Vick and rookie Joe Webb leading their squads into battle, disbelief would have been an appropriate reaction. Having whoever told you that committed might have been a fitting response as well.
A Tuesday game?
Michael Vick, an MVP candidate?
NFC East Champions?
And yet, here we are. The 10-4 Eagles take the field against the 5-9 Vikings tonight, two days late thanks to a snowstorm, with the division already wrapped up. The Birds can finish no worse than third in the NFC and now hope to secure a first round bye.
While the Vikings season hasn’t gone according to plan, they can still be a tougher opponent than expected. Minnesota’s defense is in the top 10 against both the run and the pass. Still, they’ve lost by margins of 18 and 26 in their last two games.
“We know the magnitude of this game and what’s at stake and we have to go out and get it,” Vick said. “Nothing is going to be given to you. Everything has to be earned and we have to come out and play our best football.”
The extra days of rest may have benefitted the Vikings, who should have Adrian Peterson closer to full strength coming off of his thigh contusion. Peterson has 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns this year on 247 carries.
Still, with Favre out due to a concussion, the Vikings lack a great deal of experience at the quarterback position. Joe Webb will make his first career start, having completed 17 of 31 passes for 137 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. Webb has done some damage with his feet though, running seven times for 54 yards and a score.
“Absolutely dangerous,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. “Whenever you face, or could face, a quarterback like that with the run/pass ability, like Michael Vick has, that’s a dangerous combination. So we have to make sure that we stay disciplined, yet aggressive in our approach there.”
Of course the flip side is that Webb is unseasoned and is likely to see many exotic blitzes tonight against an Eagles defense that is all about generating turnovers.
The combination of Webb’s inexperience, the Eagles’ successful season and home field advantage has the Birds heavily favored to win tonight, but you never know what might happen on any given…. Tuesday.