Today's Nfc Wild-card Game

January 04, 2009|By KEN MURRAY

Matchup: Philadelphia (9-6-1) at Minnesota (10-6), 4:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5

Line: Eagles by 3

Playoff momentum: The Eagles made one of their patented last-season rushes by winning four of five - after losing, 36-7, to the Ravens in Baltimore - to earn their wild-card spot. The Vikings won five of their past six (the loss was at home to the Falcons) after starting 1-3.

Difference-makers: The Eagles are a better team when they give the ball to running back Brian Westbrook (right). Diminutive DeSean Jackson provides big-play potential for Donovan McNabb in the passing game. On defense, Darren Howard and Trent Cole combined for 19 sacks. The Vikings ride the NFL's leading rusher, Adrian Peterson (1,760 yards), and count on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to not make any game-changing mistakes. Jared Allen gave the Vikings a pass rush with 14 1/2 sacks.

Point of attack: The Eagles have been erratic on offense, but their defense has been splendid all season. They totaled 48 sacks and allowed just seven rushing touchdowns. The Vikings surrendered 43 sacks behind a faulty line. The good news for Minnesota is the team expects Pro Bowl defensive tackle Pat Williams to play after he missed the past two games with a fractured scapula.

The Baltimore Sun's pick: Jackson will likely struggle against Jim Johnson's blitz schemes, and it won't be surprising if Gus Frerotte has to play, which will be even better for the Eagles. McNabb might yet get to write his own farewell from Philadelphia. Eagles, 28-24.

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