NFC Championship Game Betting Preview: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles

2018 NFL Playoffs
NFC Championship Game
#2 Minnesota Vikings at #1 Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, January 21, 2018, 6:40 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opening Line: Minnesota -3 1/2 (+105)
Current Line: Minnesota -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 38 1/2
Current Total: 38
Opening Money Line: Vikings -160 / Eagles +140
Current Money Line: Vikings -155 / Eagles +135

The Vikings travel to the Eagles for the NFC Championship game Sunday in Philadelphia.

Two long suffering franchises that are desperate for a championship meet Sunday in the NFC Championship as the Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams are 14-3 but the Eagles won the tiebreaker and will host the game. The Eagles have not won a championship since 1961, and the Vikings have never won a championship. The Vikings appeared in four Super Bowls in the 1970’s but lost them all. The winner between the Vikings and Eagles will advance to Super Bowl LII in two weeks against either the New England Patriots or Jacksonville Jaguars. Minnesota is also trying to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Minnesota won the NFC North and is the #2 seed in the NFC. The Vikings had a first round bye, and won a thrilling 29-24 contest over the #4 New Orleans Saints in the Divisional round last Sunday. The Vikings led 17-0 late in the third, but the Saints rallied to take a 24-23 lead with under 30 seconds left in the game. The Vikings took over with no timeouts, and scored the game winning touchdown on a 61 yard  pass from quarterback Case Keenum to receiver Stefon Diggs on the last play of the game that was dubbed the Minnesota Miracle. The Vikings took a knee on the far from meaningless extra point. The Vikings were 5.5 point favorites and the total was 46.5.

Philadelphia is the #1 seed in the NFC and won the NFC East. The Eagles also had a first round bye. Philadelphia survived the divisional round by escaping with a 15-10 victory over the #6 seed Atlanta Falcons last Saturday. The Falcons had a chance to take the lead , but quarterback Matt Ryan’s pass to receiver Julio Jones was incomplete on fourth and goal at the two with about a minute left in the game. Despite being the number one seed, the Eagles were actually 2.5 point home underdogs against the Falcons and the total was 40.

The series is tied 13-13 between the Eagles and Vikings. The Eagles won the last meeting 21-10 in Philadelphia in 2016 to snap a two game losing streak to the Vikings. Philadelphia has won six of the last eight games against Minnesota. The Eagles have won all three playoff meetings against the Vikings including 26-14 in the 2009 Wild Card game.

Minnesota is coached by Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have been one of the biggest surprises in football this year. Minnesota has road losses at the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-9 and Carolina Panthers 31-24, plus a home loss to the Detroit Lions 14-7. The Vikings have home wins over the New Orleans Saints 29-19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17, Green Bay Packers 23-10, Baltimore Ravens 24-16, Los Angeles Rams 24-7, Cincinnati Bengals 34-7 and Chicago Bears 23-10. Minnesota has a neutral site win over the Cleveland Browns 33-16 in London, plus road wins at the Chicago Bears 20-17, Washington Redskins 38-30, Lions 30-23, Atlanta Falcons 14-9 and Packers 16-0. The Vikings have won twelve of their last thirteen games. The Vikings are 11-6 ATS and the total is 8-9 this season.

Philadelphia is coached by Doug Pederson. The Eagles have road losses at the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 and Seattle Seahawks 24-10, plus a home loss to the Dallas Cowboys 6-0. The Eagles have  road wins at the Washington Redskins 30-17, Los Angeles Chargers 26-24, Carolina Panthers 28-23, Dallas Cowboys 37-9, Los Angeles Rams 43-35 and New York Giants 34-29, plus home wins over the Giants 27-24, Arizona Cardinals 34-7, Redskins 34-24, San Francisco 49ers 33-10, Denver Broncos 51-23, Chicago Bears 31-3 and Oakland Raiders 19-10. Philadelphia is 11-6 ATS and the total is 8-9 this season.

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Minnesota is outscoring teams 24-16. The Vikings are #1 in  points allowed and #10 in scoring. Minnesota is averaging 357 yards per game on offense including 235 passing and 122 rushing yards. The Vikings are in the top eleven in all three categories. Minnesota allows 276 yards per game on defense including 192 passing and 84 rushing yards. The Vikings are in the top two in all three categories. Minnesota is 95/223 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 60/225. Minnesota has forced 37 sacks and allowed 27 this season. The Vikings are +5 in turnovers.

Quarterback Case Keenum has completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and rushed for 160 yards on 40 carries with a touchdown. He has been sacked 22 times. He is starting in place of Sam Bradford who has missed all but two games with a knee injury. Bradford has completed 74.4% of his passes for 382 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Bradford was activated as the back-up  last week. Teddy Bridgewater took a few snaps in blowouts after  suffering a horrific knee injury before last season started. He was 0/2 with an interception, but that is not the point.

Running back Latavius Murray has 216 carries for 842 yards with 8 touchdowns, plus 15 catches for 103 yards. Jerick McKinnon has 150 carries for 570 yards with 3 touchdowns, plus 51 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook is out indefinitely with a torn ACL. He had 74 carries for 354 yards and four touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 90 yards.  Bishop Sankey is also out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver Adam Thielen has 91 catches for 1,276 yards and 4 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs has 64 catches for 849 yards and 8 touchdowns.   Tight end Kyle Rudolph has 57 catches for 532 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. LaQuon Treadwell has 20 catches for 200 yards. Jarius Wright has 18 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

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Philadelphia is outscoring teams 29-18 this season. The Eagles are #3 in scoring and #4 in points allowed. Philadelphia averages 366 total yards per game including 234 passing and 132 rushing yards. The Eagles are in the top seven in total and rushing offense. The Eagles allow 307 yards per game on defense including 227 passing and 79 rushing yards. Philadelphia is #1 in rush defense, and #4 in total defense. Philadelphia is 113/256 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 70/223. The Eagles have forced 38 sacks and allowed 36 this season. Philadelphia is +11 in turnovers and has scored 6 defensive touchdowns. The have also allowed 3 defensive touchdowns

Quarterback Carson Wentz has completed 60.2% of his passes for 3,296 yards with 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and has 299 rushing yards on 64 carries. He has been sacked 28 times. Wentz was a contender for the MVP but tore his ACL a few weeks ago. Nick Foles is now the quarterback. He has completed 56.4% of his passes for 537 yards with 5 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has been sacked five times. Nate Sudfield is the back-up.

Running back LaGarrette Blount has 173 carries for 766 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus a touchdown catch.The Eagles acquired Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins just before the trade deadline. He has 70 carries for 408 yards and a touchdown, plus 10 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a knee injury.  Corey Clement has 74 carries for 321 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  Wendell Smallwood has 47 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown, plus 13 catches for 103 yards.  Darren Sproles has 15 carries for 61 yards, plus 7 catches for 61 yards. He is out for the season with a torn ACL. Donnel Pumphrey is also out for the season with a hamstring injury

Tight end Zach Ertz has 74 catches for 828 yards and 8 touchdowns. Receiver  Alshon Jeffrey has 57 catches for 789 yards and 9 touchdowns. Nelson Agholor has 62 catches for 768 yards and 8 touchdowns.    Torrey Smith has 36 catches for 420 yards and 2 touchdowns. Trey Burton has 23 catches for 248 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Mack Hollins has 16 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown. Nine defensive players are listed on the injury report. Kicker Caleb Sturgis is out indefinitely with a quad injury.

The Eagles are a home underdog for the second straight week, and that is because the offense has struggled with Foles at the helm. Offensive lineman Lane Johnson started a trend by wearing a German Shepherd mask after the game, and now costume stops around Philadelphia are selling out of dog masks. The Cleveland Browns could sue them for gimmick infringement, but back to the game. Minnesota needs to avoid a letdown after such an emotional win last week, and also has the pressure of being one win away from playing a Super Bowl at home. I think the Vikings win a close low scoring game to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since the late 70’s.

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