I’m of two clashing minds when it comes to deploying the Eagles’ defense against Matt Cassel and the Vikings this Sunday.
The matchup is potentially a juicy one, as Cassel — despite his occasional outbursts of reasonably good play — has been a turnover machine for most of the past three seasons, and the Vikings will be without Adrian Peterson and possibly Toby Gerhart, who continues to struggle with a pesky hamstring injury.
And anecdotal look at Philly’s Week 15 matchup says the Eagles much-improved pass rush will be ready and willing to tee off on Cassel and his occasionally leaky offensive line.
Philly’s defense, which hasn’t scored fewer than seven fantasy points since Week 6 — an incredible streak — has been stout against the run (sixth best in the league, according to Pro Football Focus) so Minnesota will certainly be a one-dimensional offense. This is all well and good.
The other way of looking at Philly’s Week 15 matchup is as simple as asking Vegas oddsmakers what they think of the Vikings’ chances. Vegas, as you’ll see below, has this game pegged as one of the week’s highest scoring affairs, with the Eagles as a 4.5-point favorite. Vegas says Minnesota will score 23.3 points, and that, dear streamer, makes me nervous as hell.
The hope, I think, is that the Eagles can counter the Vikings’ scoring with a bunch of sacks and perhaps a pick or two. Philadelphia’s defense won’t post a big fantasy line this week by shutting down the Minnesota offense; it simply won’t happen. Prepare yourself for scoring, and (maybe) lots of it.
|Falcons vs. Washington||51|
|Eagles at Vikings||51|
|Packers at Cowboys||48.5|
|Ravens at Lions||48|
|Rams vs. Saints||46.5|
|Dolphins vs. Patriots||45.5|
|Texans at Colts||45.5|
|Bills at Jaguars||43|
|Cardinals at Titans||41.5|
|49ers at Buccaneers||41|
|Giants vs. Seahawks||41|
|Jets at Panthers||40.5|
|Raiders vs. Chiefs||41|
|Bengals at Steelers||40.5|
* * There’s a temptation to roll with the Falcons defense against a Washington team that has simply given up on life in recent weeks. I have the Falcons as a top-15 unit, but this over-under makes me more than wary of rolling with Atlanta. Washington, however, is allowing 12.6 fantasy points to defenses when adjusted for strength of schedule. Only the Jets are worse.
* * The Bengals and Steelers both make for decent, if unexciting, options in what Vegas projects as the lowest scoring affair of Week 15. I don’t think there’s a ton of upside for either defensive unit. Only three offenses allow fewer schedule-adjusted fantasy points to defenses than the Steelers.
* * The Jacksonville defense has been a top-nine unit over the past month, averaging 8.1 fantasy points over that span. It’s a tough case to make in large part because the Jaguars are clearly prone to game flow disaster with Chad Henne at the helm. Jaguars’ coaches have found ways to mitigate Henne’s impact on the game — a boon for a defense that has been put in horrendous positions thanks to their offense’s dysfunction. Buffalo has reportedly pared down the offensive playbook for E.J. Manuel after the rookie appeared overwhelmed last week in Tampa. I’m not sure if this is a good thing for the Jags’ defense, but this much is clear: the Bills’ offense will be simplified, and Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley is a damn good defensive mind.