PHILADELPHIA -- How deceiving numbers can be. A glance at the NFL's offensive and defensive statistics would indicate that tonight's Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings game (9 p.m., Ch. 13) is everything the ABC programming moguls hoped it would be.
Philadelphia has the No. 3 offense and No. 7 defense, based on yardage gained and allowed. Minnesota is ninth on offense and 13th on defense.
However, the only numbers that count tell quite a different story. The 1-3 Eagles and 1-4 Vikings have made the Monday night attraction the DUD Bowl -- as in Desperate Underachieving Disappointments.
The Vikings' offense is a prime example of the whole being less than the sum of its parts. The Vikings have two receivers, Anthony Carter and Hassan Jones, in the NFC's top six. Running back Herschel Walker is fifth in rushing and quarterback Rich Gannon has accounted for nearly 600 yards in two starts.
Unfortunately, the Vikings have come up short on a few key plays. They missed a critical fourth-and-one in a defeat in Kansas City, and Walker dropped a fourth-down pass in the fourth quarter last week that greased the skids in a loss to Detroit.
With the firepower at the Vikings' disposal, though, they could explode at any time, so the Eagles need to get pressure on the quarterback.
Very likely, Eagles defensive end Reggie White will operate out of the "46" defense most of the evening. From nose tackle, White can make his charge over 263-pound center Kirk Lowdermilk. At the other end, Clyde Simmons will be seeking his first sack.
The Vikings' defensive philosophy is much like the Eagles'. Minnesota lives and dies on turnovers. When the Vikings got five against New Orleans in Week 2, they romped, 32-3. But in their four losses, the Vikings have forced just five turnovers.
The opposition hasn't shredded the Minnesota defense. But when the Vikings have allowed less-talented opponents to hang in there, the other team has found a way to win it at the end.
Sound familiar, Eagles fans?
On special teams, the Vikings have Walker returning kickoffs. Last season, he took the opening return 93 yards for a TD against the Eagles.