Friday, January 14, 2005

Its Vike-tastic!

See, read and understand Proverbs 4:1-2

That over- be advised I hate this game. Hate it. Hate it. Why couldn’t the Saints have snuck into the play-offs, instead of the Vikings?

The line this morning in the official source for lines on this Blog- the New York Post- is Philadelphia -8.5 over Minnesota. As I said earlier this week, I think that line is very fair- and thus makes this a difficult game to contemplate. I am on a bit of a roll picking the Eagles in the play-offs though- picking five out of the last six ATS. I must proceed boldly.

The divisional round almost always looks tricky for the favorites- because by definition the road team has to be coming in off a huge win- a play-off win- and normally has around ten wins- signifying some degree of competence. Minnesota basically qualifies on both fronts- and their “competence” largely presents itself in the form of Duante Culpepper.

In actuality, it is the nature of the play-offs. There is not one team still in the NFL’s glorious tournament that cannot possibly beat any of the other teams still competing.

A great game by Culpepper is probably not enough here to get the Vikes the win. Even if the Viking were, say, to manage to score 28 points Sunday, that 28th in the league defense (29th against the pass) might not be able to make that stand up. The Eagles need to help out some- much like Green Bay did: turn the ball over endlessly, play chaotic special teams, commit Redskin-style killer formation and discipline penalties, and of course allow big play downfield. Fortunately, the Eagles don't normally do that sort of thing.

The more I think about this, the more I am convinced this is a real tough spot for the Vikings. Don't underestimate this, Minnesota is awful on defense. Favre could not have played any worse or turned it over more & the Viking played their "A" defensive game- and the Pack still had big numbers, should have still scored over 20 and was only down a score in the fourth quarter. Surely Westbrook will go for a big number too- and look for McNabb, for the first time this season, to get a little crazy in the pocket. Clearly, the Eagles minimized Westbrook’s and McNabb’s exposure to the grind of pro-football this year. Look for that reserve to go away- Westbrook will get double the standard touches and McNabb to be terrorizing the Vikings with his legs. I am confident the Eagles can get the four scores they need to win and cover here.

Conversely, I don’t think the Vikings will be able to run it a lick here- and if Moss is gimpy or they get down quick- they could be in real trouble. They might not score twice. Plus, I am not sure the Vikings can block our front seven consistently. The Eagles, since the introduction of Trotter and the added return of some of their defense linemen, look to be way more physical than the Vikes up front.

I do not imagine the Eagles' refusal to play people lately will have any impact on the game. They might be a bit out of sync on offense- but I tend to think that would be adjusting to the absence of TO more than anything. I think it arguably helps the defense some: freshening Kearse’s and the young DB’s legs a little.

Look, the Vikings just are not that good. They have lost four of their last six. If Culpepper goes for a giant game, and the Eagles help out, this game could be trouble. I doubt either will happen.

This morning, I realized I have picked against the Eagles in three straight home play-off games. There is nothing like going to the Linc and having to root for a backdoor cover. “C’mon Packers,” I would think, “lose this game- but not by more than five.” Relax. I bring you tidings of great joy. To all those folks in Philadelphia: I like Philadelphia -8.5 over Minnesota.