Behind Enemy Lines: Talking Wild Card With Eagles and Vikings Bloggers
Sportz Assassin: How do both of you feel about how your teams are playing heading into the playoffs?
Dan Zinksi (Viking Age): I would've been happier if the Vikes hadn't needed a 10-point comeback against the Giants' second-stringers to win their last game. I think they're shaky. I think Tarvaris Jackson's performance was a bit of a mirage, since a lot of it came against some bad pass defenses. I get nervous every time Adrian Peterson touches the ball now, because he keeps fumbling. I don't think they're exactly going into the playoffs with momentum.
Derek (Iggles Blog): I'd feel a lot better if the Eagles had won that "must win" game against the Redskins two weeks ago. These guys are clearly playing some good football right now, but I still think they're short a couple of guys needed to make a Super Bowl run.
Sportz: This game features two running backs who are so valuable to their teams. What makes your guy better?
Dan: Obviously Adrian Peterson is more of the traditional running back, the guy you hand the ball to 25 times and ride. Brian Westbrook can have big games and other times he doesn't do anything -- Peterson is there every game and can break the big one basically at any point. You see Andy Reid abandon the running game entirely at times -- he wouldn't do that if he had Peterson and knew he could just pound and wasn't worried about wearing the guy out. Also, Peterson is much more handsome.
Derek: Taking nothing away from Adrian Peterson, Westbrook is a little more versatile. He's a big part of the Eagles' passing game in a way that AP is not for the Vikings. Two great players, though.
Sportz: Do you think Andy Reid will try to run at all against the Williams Wall?
Derek: No, but I do think he'll try to run around it. Block down on those guys and try to attack the edge, especially Jared Allen, who didn't look great last week playing run defense against the Giants. If Philly is going to be successful, they have to stop those two defensive tackles from getting penetration -- even on the outside runs.
Dan: I don't know if he will but I think he should. Pat Williams is coming back off a broken shoulder and you don't know how he'll hold up. So you have to test him. Unfortunately, I don't know if it's in Andy's DNA to start out trying to soften up the middle with the run. I imagine he'll hand it off maybe twice and if it doesn't work just stop running entirely. That's what every team does against the Vikes anyway.
Sportz: Who's job is more at stake in this game: Donovan McNabb or Brad Childress?
Derek: Donovan McNabb will be playing quarterback somewhere next year, although maybe not in Philadelphia. There's at least a chance Brad Childress won't be coaching anywhere. I'd say the latter then.
By the way, I'm actually a little baffled by how much the Vikings fans are rumored to dislike Childress. That franchise hasn't won double-digit games since the 2000 season. Childress has posted three straight years of increased wins. And if Jackson can continue to develop consistency, this could be a good team for awhile. I'm all in favor of other franchises firing playoff coaches, however.
Dan: I don't think Childress' job is at stake at all -- I think all he needed was to get into the playoffs this year and he was a lock to be around in 2009. I suppose they could get destroyed by some crazy score -- 44-6 say -- and maybe Zygi Wilf could look at a guy like Mike Shanahan floating out there and be tempted, but this is an incredible long-shot. I would imagine with McNabb, they've already got their minds made up whether they want to keep going with him or hand it over to the Kolb kid, so one playoff game doesn't make much difference one way or another. It's an age thing too with McNabb. I just have a feeling they've already decided they want to go a different way and there's nothing he can do short of win the Super Bowl.
Sportz: What advantage do the Eagles have over the Vikings?
Dan: I can tell you right now the Vikings did a terrible job picking up blitzes and stuff against the Giants and we all know the kind of crap Jim Johnson will throw at you. So if I were Tarvaris Jackson I'd make sure to stretch plenty before the game and also wear extra padding. If there's anything left Johnson has that he's never used, I believe he will throw it at Tarvaris. This is his first playoff game ever. They will treat him like a green rookie.
Derek: Better offense, better defense and better special teams. Beyond that, it's pretty even.
Sportz: What advantage do the Vikings have over the Eagles?
Derek: They're playing at home. Also, given the way the Eagles seem to struggle with teams that don't look that great on paper, that should help the Vikings.
Dan: I think the Vikings have much more of a grinding, never-say-die attitude than the Eagles. You look at the way the season went for Philly, there were games where they just didn't show up at all, and you sort of scratch your head. The Vikes had some inconsistency in certain areas but there wasn't a single game where you could say they just packed it in. The Eagles had that game against Baltimore for instance where they just weren't there at all. If the Eagles somehow can't find their groove in this game I believe the Vikings can just beat them down -- they can be very physical; just ask Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton and Kurt Warner. I do know that, no matter what happens, the Vikings will fight to the end. I can't say that about Philly.
Sportz: Who wins the game?
Dan: Homer-pick time: Vikings 21, Eagles 17. Maybe with Tarvaris Jackson getting pulled and Gus Frerotte coming in to play the hero.
Derek: The Eagles should win, but I'm long past predicting anything with certainty with this team. A 20-plus-point blowout wouldn't surprise me. Nor would losing 10-3. This is one fickle bunch.
Sportz: I'm with you, Dan. I'm going with a bit of an upset and pick the Vikings at home in the dome. Something like 20-17. Like Derek said, just when Philly gets you believing in them, they let you down.
Thanks again to Dan Zinksi from The Viking Age and Derek from Iggles Blog for coming into the 'House and getting us prepped for the Eagles-Vikings Wildcard battle. Hopefully we will hear from one of them next week when the winner moves on to the Divisional Round against either the Giants or Panthers.