Forget Them Not
DiCecco: X-Factors For MNF Showdown
With the hotly anticipated prime-time matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) and the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Lincoln Financial Field looming, it’s easy to lose sight of several X-factors who could alter momentum and determine the outcome between these two NFC upstarts.
Let’s take a look at four players who are primed to make an impact on Monday night:
WR DeVonta Smith: There has been a lot of discussion about Smith’s blank Week 1 stat line, and while there are sure to be weeks that mirror last Sunday’s output playing opposite A.J. Brown, the former first-round pick should be afforded ample opportunities to make plays against Minnesota. With the Vikings presumably selling out to slow the aforementioned Brown from erupting for another week, Smith – a route-running technician – should feast in single coverage working against maligned cornerback Cam Dantzler, a 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, lanky corner who offers little in terms of long speed and can be overly handsy in coverage.
DT Javon Hargrave: Hargrave burst onto the scene for the Eagles last season, accumulating six sacks through the first five games. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound interior mauler underwhelmed in last week’s 38-35 win over the Lions, specifically in the running game, where he was essentially a non-factor. This week, Hargrave will face a Minnesota offensive line susceptible to pressure up the middle, where left guard Ezra Cleveland, center Garrett Bradbury, and right guard Ed Ingram hold court. For the Eagles to minimize the impact of Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, Hargrave needs to be disruptive and take advantage of a plus matchup.
WR K.J. Osborn: Osborn figures to the beneficiary of extra attention devoted to stopping Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. A fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2020, Osborn played 42 offensive snaps in Week 1 — accounting for 68 percent of the total – but mustered only three receptions for 14 yards on four targets. This week, Osborn will primarily draw Avonte Maddox in coverage. Maddox was targeted six times and surrendered a 107.6 passer rating in Week 1. The Eagles, who will presumably be hyper-focused on preventing backbreaking plays, may be vulnerable to Osborn on short to intermediate routes.
CB Chandon Sullivan: Sullivan’s NFL career began in 2018, when the Eagles signed the former Georgia State standout as an undrafted free agent. The 5-foot-11, 189-pound cornerback found his footing with the Green Bay Packers over the past three seasons, establishing himself as one of the league’s premier slot defenders, before inking a one-year deal with the Vikings in March. Sullivan, who has appeared in 59 career games (24 starts), is a smart, instinctive defender who figures to see plenty of Quez Watkins in this matchup. While the fifth-year pro is coming off a career-high three interceptions season in Green Bay – where he played 77 percent of the team’s defensive snaps – I suspect he will be targeted often as the Eagles make a concerted effort to feed Watkins and manufacture explosive plays.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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