Sunday is a heavyweight fight in the NFC. The Minnesota Vikings will be hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle of 3-2 teams. The Vikings won last season 23-21 in Philadelphia. This year the Eagles will be looking to win in Minnesota for the first time since Super Bowl 52. But it won’t be easy as the Eagles defense faces star running back Dalvin Cook. So how can the Eagles shut him down?
Cook off to strong start
Drafted in 2017 Cook struggled to stay on the field through his first two seasons appearing in just 15 games. However this season he has started all five games and has been a man on a mission. Through five games he’s the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 542 yards. He’s averaging 18.4 carries a game and has five touchdowns. Last week he recorded 218 scrimmage yards against the Giants.
The Vikings emphasis on a run-first approach has certainly helped get his career on track.
Eagles defense ready for the task
In the last two weeks the Eagles defense has risen to the occasion. They have forced five turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns while recording 11 sacks. The Eagles also bring to the Twin Cities the League’s top-ranked rush defense. This includes shutting down Packers running back Aaron Jones holding him to just 21 yards.
Kirk Cousins has struggled this year and was questioned by Adam Thielen. Thielen and Cousins, however, got in sync last week as Thielen went for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. The Eagles defense, however, is building confidence. Linebacker Zach Brown who was teammates with Cousins in Washington stated that Cousins is “probably the weakest link” in the Vikings offense.
They will also be getting oft-injured cornerback Sidney Jones back. This game could very well come down to Kirk Cousins needing to make big plays downfield in order for the Vikings to win. Even though the Eagles secondary has struggled it’s better to put the game on Cousins as opposed to Cook.
Who will come out on top?
The Eagles recorded 10 sacks last week. While obviously that can’t happen every week its a step in the right direction after recording just three in the first four games. Brandon Graham has been excellent against the run. Of course with Fletcher Cox in the middle that makes it even more difficult. Also, add in second-year Defensive end Josh Sweat who is having a strong start as well. This week will be a tune-up as the Eagles will have to face Zeke Elliott next week.
If the Eagles defense faces Cook and are able to shut him down ill take the Eagles 24-17. It also helps that Cousins struggles in his career against teams with winning records.
Featured image via Flickr Smashdown Sports News
All stats via NFL.com
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