NFC Championship Odds & Preview — Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
The Minnesota Vikings lost their starting quarterback, as well as the standout rookie who looked like he was going to be their top running back. The Philadelphia Eagles also lost their starting QB, in addition to a Pro Bowl at the critical position of left tackle. Yet here they both are, in the NFC Championship Game, which is scheduled to begin at 6:40 PM ET at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you’ll have a chance to place wagers in real time when you access what is available through Live Betting Ultra. But remember that before the game begins, you can get better football odds through reduced juice.
The Vikings looked like they were going to go home disappointed last week, having blown a 17-0 halftime lead against New Orleans. But on the final play of the game, Case Keenum threw a 61-yard miracle touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs, and if they would have elected to kick the extra point with time having run out, they would have covered their 12th game in the last thirteen. That’s how profitable they’ve been. Mike Zimmer is 44-22 ATS in his head coaching career.
Minnesota may have the best defense in the league, across the board. They are easily the best in the league on third down situations, allowing success only 25.2% of the time, which is the best number since the category became an official league statistic. They stuff the run pretty good too, allowing just 83 yards a game.
They will be facing off against a Philadelphia offense that hopes it can get something credible out of Nick Foles, who passed a test last week against the Atlanta Falcons, completing 23 of 30 throws for 246 yards, although the team produced only one touchdown. The Eagles are not far behind the Vikes when it comes to defense, allowing 32% o third down and 79 yards on the ground per contest.
In the NFC Championship odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Vikings are the favorites on the road:
Minnesota Vikings -3 (-105)
Philadelphia Eagles +3 (-115)
Over 39 points -110
Under 39 points -110
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and head coach Doug Pederson figured that Foles’ best chance for success last week was to get rid of the ball quickly. And thus, his time from snap to release was just 2.27 seconds, which is very quick. When you take an approach like this, your chances are better against a zone than against man coverage, but look for the Vikings to play man coverage, which is something they do just about as well as any team in the league, yielding just a 60.0 passer rating when they do it. Listen – we’re not suggesting that Foles will fold completely; he has, after all, had a QB rating over 100 in both playoff starts in his career, and had one of the best seasons of any quarterback in 2013. But he’s in a different offense now than he was then. Furthermore, Minnesota is likely to try and exploit the absence of Jason Peters at left tackle, as Everson Griffen and others will work against Halapoulivaati Vaitai. And Foles was 17 of 41 when he faced pressure.
BetAnySports patrons can expect that the Eagles will utilize man coverage against Case Keenum too, and they have done pretty well in that regard, yielding just six yards an attempt. And defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows how to dial up some pressure. But here’s what is interesting about Minnesota’s signal-caller – on an overall basis, not only has he compiled the top “Total QBR” (an ESPN stat) in the NFL this season, he also has the league’s best quarterback rating against pressure. And a lot of the credit for that has to go to his wide receivers – Diggs and Adam Thielen – who are very good at going and getting the ball, even in tight situations.
We respect the fact that the Eagles have not allowed a single point in the last two minutes of any game this season. But they stand to be the team that has more difficulty carrying out play-action, and with Foles they are not nearly as good inside the red zone as they were overall during the regular season, when they scored TD’s 67% of the time. Minnesota has allowed only three of the last 13 teams it has faced to reach 200 passing yards, and we believe the Vikes have the edge in the battle of the two journeyman quarterbacks. So we’ll lay the points.
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