For the second consecutive season, the Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings for a primetime matchup in Week 2. Last year it was Monday Night Football, and this year they play on Thursday Night Football (9/14/23) on Amazon Prime. Read on for Vikings vs. Eagles predictions, analysis and best bets below, with the best bet recommendation being the Vikings +7.
Vikings vs. Eagles Prediction & Best Bet
Neither of these teams looked particularly good in week 1, but the Vikings have a lot more cause for concern than the Eagles after an embarrassing loss at home to the Buccaneers in week 1.
Time will tell if the Buccaneers are better than most expect with Baker Mayfield at QB this season. Maybe this Vikings’ loss will not look quite so bad by the end of the season, but right now it’s hard to have much confidence in Minnesota.
Kirk Cousins was able to move the ball through the air on a still-solid Bucs defense, but he committed three costly turnovers in the first half. The Vikings’ offense sputtered in the fourth quarter with two three-and outs while the defense was unable to get Mayfield’s offense off the field. They allowed a critical 4th-and-1 conversion that led to the go-ahead field goal, then allowed two third-down conversions on the final drive to seal the game.
If Mayfield was able to do that on the road against Minnesota, then imagine what the Eagles’ offense could do at home in primetime. Jalen Hurts played one of his best games of the season in this spot last year, completing 26/31 passes for 333 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another 57 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings’ secondary had no answers for the Eagles’ pass catchers, and they have not appreciably improved since then.
Hurts’ offense struggled against the Patriots’ tough defense in week 1, which could be attributed to some combination of Bill Belichick’s defense disguising coverages, some weather impact, some rust from their lack of reps in the preseason, and some growing pains under new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. The latter two issues should improve in week 2, and we expect to see the Eagles’ offense look much more like its 2022 version against a much weaker Vikings’ defense.
Look for both Dallas Goedert and D’Andre Swift to be much more involved in the Eagles’ offense after they were both non-factors against the Patriots (1 target for Goedert, 2 touches for Swift). A similar story played out last season when DeVonta Smith had 0 catches in week 1 then led the team with 7 catches in week 2.
For the Vikings to make this a more competitive game than their 24-7 loss last year, they’ll need to rely on their offense to keep up with the Eagles. Darius Slay held Justin Jefferson to the worst game of his career last season, but it’s difficult to expect a repeat performance.
Darius Slay vs Justin Jefferson last season
— JAKIB Sports (@JAKIBSports) September 11, 2023
Two other weapons that the Vikings have added since last year – tight end T.J. Hockenson and rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison – could be a big factor in this game. The Eagles have historically struggled to cover tight ends since they do not invest heavily in the linebacker and safety positions. Patriots tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki combined for 8 catches on 9 targets for 92 yards and a touchdown in week 1.
After catching his first career touchdown in week 1, Addison will match up with Josh Jobe, an undrafted second-year cornerback from Alabama who is starting in place of James Bradberry (concussion).
Jordan Addison’s first NFL touchdown: pic.twitter.com/wb3sHBcSx0
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 10, 2023
We know the history of Kirk Cousins in primetime, but we expect him to be successful attacking the middle of the Eagles’ defense similar to what Mac Jones did in week 1 (316 yards and 3 touchdowns). The Vikings will score way more than the 7 points they managed last season and will keep it close enough to cover the 7-point spread. However, their defense won’t be able to slow down the Eagles, who will be much better at home in week 2 than what we saw last week. That will lead to the total going over 48 points.
Vikings vs. Eagles Prediction & Best Bet: Eagles win 27-23, Vikings cover -7 (-110), over 48 points (-110)
Vikings vs. Eagles Betting Odds
The spread in this game is sitting at the key number of -7, but it has briefly moved 0.5 in either direction at various sportsbooks, so it’s worth monitoring the line to try to get the number under -7 (if you’re betting on the Eagles) or get the hook at -7.5 (if you’re betting on the Vikings).
For some historical context, the line in this game last season was Eagles -2.5 with an over/under of 49.5, and both the Eagles cover and the under hit easily (24-7 Eagles).
Vikings vs. Eagles Key Injuries
The Eagles lost two starters on defense in their season opener – linebacker Nakobe Dean (foot/ankle) and cornerback James Bradberry (concussion). Both players are expected to miss this game, with Dean expected to be out multiple weeks.
Vikings’ center Garrett Bradbury player only 7 snaps in week 1 before exiting with a back injury, while left tackle Christian Darrisaw missed six snaps. Both players are officially questionable, with Bradbury the much bigger risk of missing this game.
Several other players on both teams either did not practice or were limited in practice this week, but none of those players are expected to miss the game. They were likely held out or limited simply for precautionary reasons because of the short week.
Vikings vs. Eagles Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Vikings vs. Eagles below.
Vikings’ offensive line vs. Eagles’ pass rush
The accolades are already piling up for Eagles rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter, the 9th overall pick in the 2023 draft who was considered the best non-quarterback in the draft but fell due to character concerns.
In his first NFL game, Carter tied for the NFL lead with 8 quarterback pressures, according to PFF. That was the most by a rookie DT in more than 5 years (in any game, not just their first game). He converted one of those pressures into his first career sack on a critical third-down play late in the fourth quarter that helped seal the Eagles’ win.
After WK1, DT Jalen Carter is tied for the NFL-lead in pressures (8).
As good as advertised so far. https://t.co/ldsq0Ghvf0
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 12, 2023
The Vikings could be playing without their starting center in this game, Garrett Bradbury, which will make it even more difficult for them to prevent Carter from being a game-wrecker for the second consecutive week. Of course, Carter is not the only dangerous pass rusher for the Eagles, who led the league with 70 sacks last season, just two shy of the NFL record.
If the Eagles can get pressure consistently on Kirk Cousins, then it could be another poor showing in primetime for the Vikings’ QB. That is the single biggest factor that could impact whether the Vikings can cover the -7 spread or score enough points to push the total over 48.
Vikings’ pass catchers vs. middle of Eagles’ defense
We alluded to the Eagles’ struggles against tight ends earlier. The real weakness of the Eagles defense is anything over the middle of the field, which could be an even bigger issue with Nakobe Dean expected to miss this game.
T.J. Hockenson was great for the Vikings after being traded from the Lions last season, and he had a great start to 2023 in week 1 with 8 catches (albeit for only 35 yards). In this game last season, Irv Smith Jr. had five catches and scored the Vikings’ only touchdown. Hockenson is a much better player than Smith Jr. and he could be primed for a big game.
The Vikings could also look to use Justin Jefferson in the middle of the field, particularly by lining him up in the slot and avoiding a matchup with Darius Slay. Several of Jefferson’s 9 catches in week 1 were on crossing patterns over the middle, which the Eagles struggle to defend.
The Vikings need to move the ball consistently to keep up with the Eagles and have a chance to win this game, let alone cover the spread. If they can exploit the middle of the Eagles’ defense, they will have a much better chance of doing that.