JANUARY 21, 2018, 6:40 PM ET | LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD
Sure, back in September everyone expected an NFC Championship Game featuring starting quarterbacks named Case Keenum and Nick Foles. Not! Now, one former journeyman backup is guaranteed a trip to Super Bowl LII.
NFL Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Minnesota’s Keenum took over for injured starter Sam Bradford in Week 2. Bradford regained the job briefly in Week 5 at Chicago but clearly wasn’t healthy and pulled late in the first half. Keenum hasn’t relinquished the job since. It’s the ninth trip to the NFC title game for the Vikings, last in 2009, and they are 3-5.
Philadelphia is in the NFC title game for the seventh time, first since the 2008 season (loss to Arizona) and is 2-4 in the previous six. Of course, star QB Carson Wentz was lost to a season-ending torn ACL in Week 14 at the Rams. Foles has been rather uneven in his place.
Probably the closest comparison to these Eagles quarterback-wise would be the 1990 New York Giants. QB Phil Simms broke his foot in a loss to Buffalo in Week 15. Backup Jeff Hostetler, though, would lead the Giants to playoff wins over the Bears and 49ers before upsetting the favoured Bills in Super Bowl XXV – the Scott Norwood “Wide Right” game.
These two teams most recently played Week 7 last season, a 21-10 Eagles home victory. Bradford, the former Eagle, was the Minnesota QB that day. He was sacked six times and had three turnovers. Wentz wasn’t great, either, throwing for 138 yards with two interceptions. The Vikes are 1-4 ATS in their past five trips to Philadelphia.
The Eagles are 3-0 all-time in the playoffs vs. the Vikings. Road teams have been favoured in a conference title game 14 times and won eight of those.
The Vikings are here thanks to nothing short of a Minneapolis miracle. They dominated the first half of Sunday’s home wild-card game vs. New Orleans, leading 17-0 at the break. However, it appeared the Saints had won the game on a 43-yard Will Lutz field goal with 25 second remaining and a 24-23 lead. On third-and-10 from the Minnesota 39 with just 10 seconds left and no timeouts, Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for about a 25-yard gain near the sideline. All the Saints had to do was tackle Diggs in bounds and the clock would have run out. Except rookie Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle attempt, and Diggs spun and galloped untouched to the end zone as time expired. The roof nearly blew off U.S. Bank Stadium on the first non-overtime walkoff touchdown in NFL playoff history.
The Eagles players were well aware their team was a home underdog last week against Atlanta, the first time a No. 1 seed had been a dog in its first playoff game. Following the 15-10 victory, a couple of players were seen wearing dog masks in celebration. Defensive end Chris Long did his post-game interview in the locker room wearing one. Expect to see plenty of fans wearing them in the stands here as they sold out on Amazon shortly after the game. Foles was 23-for-30 for 246 yards against the Falcons. He fumbled twice but Philly recovered both. Not often you win a playoff game losing the turnover battle, but Philadelphia did just that with two giveaways to none for the Falcons.
The Eagles defence was fourth in yards allowed during the regular season and surrendered only 281 to Atlanta. That unit also had a goal-line stand in the closing minute. Amazingly, the Eagles haven’t allowed a point in the last two minutes of the second half in any game this season.