THE Battle of the Again-ups will resolve the NFC Championship sport and two groups that consider themselves cursed.
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings have been the 2 most constant groups within the NFL this season, however must depend on a pair of unheralded quarterbacks to take them to the promised land.
The Eagles have three NFL championships however have by no means received within the Tremendous Bowl period, their final look coming in 2004, whereas the Vikings have misplaced 4 instances within the massive sport – and never since 1976.
Neither Nick Foles or Case Keenum would have anticipated to be on this place initially of the season.
Eagles star Carson Wentz was having a MVP calibre season when he went down with a season-ending harm in week 14, whereas Keenum was truly Minnesota’s third selection quarterback in week one.
Foles silenced his doubters final week with an especially managed efficiency towards the Atlanta Falcons.
He hit 76 per cent of his throws and allowed the staff’s trio of operating backs – together with Londoner Jay Ajayi – to regulate the clock.
Keenum has shocked this season and managed to get it accomplished final week towards the New Orleans Saints with a miraculous play to Stefon Diggs with the clock operating out.
Offensively, the Eagles will need Foles to restrict his errors and let the operating sport management the clock.
Tight finish Zach Ertz has had a giant season however struggled to get within the sport towards the Falcons.
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Keenum has proved himself able to placing up massive yards whereas his receiving corps – led by Adam Thielen, Diggs and tight finish Kyle Rudolph – is rather more harmful than the Eagles with out Wentz.
However this sport needs to be a defensive battle.
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The Vikings had been the top-ranked defence within the NFL this season and though Drew Brees had a whole lot of success final week, the lads in purple nonetheless held the Saints on a number of key performs.
Anthony Barr is likely one of the greatest linebackers within the league, whereas the secondary options All-Professionals Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes.
The Eagles – who’ve house area benefit, bear in mind – even have a number of defensive playmakers.
Philadelphia had been the stingiest staff within the league towards the run, with Fletcher Cox and Co additionally sturdy at placing strain on the quarterback.
Keenum and the Minnesota offensive line may have a job avoiding strain.
All eyes might be on Foles and Keenum, however this sport appears destined to be determined elsewhere.
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Tale of the tape
Regular-season record: 13-3 (1st in NFC East)
Wild Card Round: by
Divisional Round: beat Atlants Falcons 15-10
Best playoff appearance: Super Bowl losers (1980, 2004), won three NFL championships pre-Super Bowl era
Regular-season record: 13-3 (1st in NFC North)
Wild Card Round: Bye
Divisional Round: beat New Orleans Saints 29-24
Best playoff appearance: Super Bowl losers (1969, 1973, 1974, 1976
What they said
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson: “We need to eliminate all mental clutter. If it doesn’t apply to our preparation, it’s clutter. Get rid of it.”
Eagles running back Jay Ajayi: “We have to make sure that we’re on top of our game. It’s going to be a physical one this weekend, it’s exciting and it’s win or go home. That’s really the end of it. It’s win or go home.”
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer: “We’ve got a big task in front of us. It’s a heck of an Eagles team. They’ve got an outstanding defence, tops in the league in red zone touchdown percentage.
“I can go on and on and on about this team so I think they understand the task that we have at hand and the opportunity that we may have as well”
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum: “I know this is what all you guys predicted back in the day was a Foles versus Keenum NFC Championship, so good job to all you guys that predicted that.”