The Minnesota Vikings visit the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, hoping to make sure their heroics in the previous round were not in vain.
Case Keenum's miracle last-gasp 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs saw the Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints 29-24 in the Divisional Round.
They are now a game away from hosting the Super Bowl at their U.S. Bank Stadium home but first must overcome the top-seed Eagles in a battle between two elite defenses.
Minnesota are favoured to prevail against an Eagles team quarterbacked by Nick Foles with Carson Wentz on the sideline with a torn ACL. Here we look at the best Opta facts surrounding the game.
MINNESOTA'S PHILLY HOODOO
Historically the Vikings have not come out well in meetings with the Eagles. Since the start of 2001, the Eagles are 6-2 against the Vikings, and 2-0 in the postseason. Additionally, Philadelphia are 9-2 in their last 11 home games (including playoffs) against Minnesota.
Eagles fans are famous for their fanatic support and the homefield advantage they provide could be huge this weekend. The Eagles are 2-2 at home in Conference Championship games (most recently a 27-10 win over the Falcons on January 23, 2005). They went 8-1 at home in 2017 (including playoffs), allowing 13.0 points and 280.7 yards per game (the fewest and fourth-fewest in the league, respectively).
The Vikings will be hoping their traditionally poor form in away playoff games does not continue. They are 6-16 all-time in postseason road games, having not won such a game since a 31-17 victory on January 9, 2005 in Green Bay.
Minnesota have been happy travellers this season, though. The Vikings are 6-1 on the road since Week 5, tied for the best road record of any team in that time. Additionally, they rank in the top five in both yards allowed per game (298.9) and turnover differential (+4).
EAGLES TO STAY GROUNDED?
With Foles under center, the Eagles are more likely to look to the ground game to try to break down the Vikings defense.
The trade deadline move for Jay Ajayi now looks especially prescient, in last week's win over the Atlanta Falcons the former Miami Dolphins man became the fifth running back in Eagles postseason history to record 40+ rushing yards and 40+ receiving yards in the same game, and the first since Brian Westbrook did it twice in the 2004 playoffs.
But if the onus is instead put on Foles, Alshon Jeffery may be the best receiver to target. The former Chicago Bears star has caught seven touchdowns against the Vikings in his career. He has more than three against just one other team.
DIGGS THE MAN TO STOP
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen is questionable for the game with a back injury. Should he miss the game, then the Eagles defense will be able to focus more of their energy on stopping Diggs.
But that may be easier said than done. Last week Diggs became just the fourth player in franchise postseason history with 130+ receiving yards and 1+ receiving touchdowns in a game, and the first since Sidney Rice in 2010.
And slowing down Keenum promises to be a difficult challenge. He threw for 318 yards last week, the fourth-most he has ever thrown for in a single game. It was also the third-most ever for a Vikings quarterback in the postseason.
4 - Stefon Diggs is just the fourth player in #Vikings franchise postseason history with 130+ receiving yards and a touchdown, and the first since Sidney Rice in 2010. #Skol pic.twitter.com/XrPSL9XJ88— OptaJerry (@OptaJerry) January 15, 2018
20 de febrero 2018
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