Eagles Are Underdogs Again At Home
It wasn’t the Immaculate Reception, but the touchdown will still go down as one of the most unbelievable plays in NFL history.
The Minnesota Vikings have the ball on their own 39-yard line. There’s 10 seconds left in the game. They have no timeouts and trail by one point. To say things look bleak would be putting it mildly.
Case Keenum drops back and heaves the ball deep towards the sidelines. Stefon Diggs makes the catch and then is completely missed by a New Orleans defender. The unbelievable has become the believable. Diggs scores, sending the Vikings to the NFC Championship game, with one more win needed to become a first-time Super Bowl host.
Rookie safety Marcus Williams totally misplayed the ball, receiver and the situation. For once, the Vikings are on the receiving end of another team’s misfortune to advance in the postseason. All Williams had to do was tackle Diggs in bounds and the game was over.
Williams was understandably hard on himself after the loss Sunday, when he vowed “to never let that happen again. And, I mean, if it happens again, then I shouldn’t be playing.”
The Vikings (14-3) now travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles (14-3) at Lincoln Financial Field in the second of two conference finals this Sunday. It’s the first time either team has played in the NFC Championship in eight years. The Vikings lost to New Orleans in the 2009-10 final in overtime, while the Eagles lost to Arizona in the 2008-09 game.
For the second straight week, the Eagles find themselves the underdogs at home in a playoff game as the No. 1 seed in the postseason. Minnesota is favored by 3.5 points (odds provided by ).
It’s the sixth time this season the Vikings have been favored on the road this year. They are 5-1 straight up and 4-2 against the spread (ATS). Minnesota led the league in the regular season at 11-4-1.
The Eagles, who were three-point underdogs last weekend, shut down the Falcons from first-and-goal in the last minute of the game and eliminated Atlanta from the playoffs 15-10.
Nick Foles defied his critics and played a fantastic game. He went 23-for-30 (76.7%) for 246 yards and outplayed the reigning MVP of the league in Matt Ryan.
The Eagles beat the Falcons in just about every offensive category — first downs (22-19), third-down efficiency (.462-.308), yards per play (5.3-4.8) and time of possession (32:06-27:54). The Falcons won the turnover battle 2-0, but still only scored one touchdown against a determined Philadelphia defense.
The Vikings did the same against the Saints — first downs (24-23), third-down efficiency (.588-.222), yards per play (5.7-5.3) and time of possession (33:17-26:43). The Saints won the turnover battle 2-1, but also had a lot more penalties (7-97, 4-30).
Both the Vikings and the Eagles lost all three of their games this season to teams with a record over .500.
The Eagles have been an underdog by 3.5 points or more at home once this season. They lost that game to Dallas 6-0, but it was the last game of the season and their starters didn’t play the entire game. The Eagles are 10-6 ATS, 5-3 ATS at home.
These are two of the best defenses in the league. All signs point to a low-scoring game. The Vikings, who play indoors on a synthetic surface, lost once at home this season. But their other two losses were outdoors on grass — at Pittsburgh and Carolina — against teams with a winning record.
VGB’s pick — Philadelphia (+3.5), Under (38)
NFC Conference Championship Prop Bets
Both teams dominated their opponents in first downs this season. This should come as no surprise since the two finished the regular season with identical 13-3 records. The Vikings won the first-down battle for the year 334-260. The Eagles were ahead 338-272. The final first-down results for this game should be close, so take the underdog.
VGB’s pick — Philadelphia (+2)
The odds that a team will score in the first 6:30 of the game are split right down the middle between these two rivals. The Vikings went 8-8 this season where either Minnesota or its opponent got on the board first. The Eagles also went 8-8. If it’s a 50-50 proposition, go with the one that pays more.
VGB’s pick — Yes (+120)