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What I’ll be watching tonight…

MICHAEL VICK
I’m sorry, but Michael Vick is playing such amazing ball right now, he is going to command most of my attention, albeit painfully for what he will likely do to the Vikings.

The reason Vick is such a dangerous player this year is simple, he’s no longer just a runner who plays quarterback. He’s learned to play the quarterback position; he can find receivers while staying in the pocket and when he finds them, he’s pretty accurate getting the rock into their hands.

When Vick breaks the pocket or rolls out and threatens to run, he’s hard to stop because he’s fast but also because he’s got that quick-twitch move that is so deadly when combined with Vick’s speed and explosiveness. What you typically do with a player like that is settle and wait for him to make the his move while hoping the cavalry arrives in time. With Vick, that’s not nearly as effective because he’ll likely blow by you even if you know where he’s going.

The fact that he’s deadly both on the ground and now through the air as well presents even more problems for defenses. If it looks like he’s going to run, defenses are obligated to defend that but that will inevitably pull defenders of receivers, opening up targets for Vick to throw to.

In players like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Macklin, Brent Celek, and LeSean McCoy, Vick has got some mighty fine targets to throw to.

The lightening-fast DeSean Jackson is complemented by fellow dangerous receiver Jeremy Macklin, who is joined by the 6’4″, 255 lbs. Brent Celek to complete the base receiving corps. Running back LeSean McCoy is having a Chuck Foreman kind of year: He’s gained more than 1,000 yards rushing while adding 74 receptions to the mix.

It’ll be a straight-up track meet out there.

I don’t see how the Vikings depleted defense can hold up under that pressure.

I don’t know what the best approach is. If you blitz Vick a lot, that means one-on-one coverage and do you really want to put Asher Allen man-to-man up against Jackson more than a few times a game? It also means Vick can pull the ball down and beat you with his legs.

On the other hand, if you rely on pressure from the front four and they don’t get it, Vick is perfectly capable of picking apart the secondary.

I think the Eagles are going to score quickly and often.

YOUNG JOE WEBB
Which might be a blessing in disguise for our rookie quarterback, Joe Webb. Webb needs as much real game experience as he can get; if the Eagles score quickly, that gives him more of the clock to devote to improving his game.

It will be a hell of a challenge for Mr. Webb.

Let’s start with the weather: The Eagles are expecting up to 12 inches of snow today, 4-8 inches of which may fall during the game at Lincoln Financial Field. Sustained wins will be between 25-30 miles an hour and with wind gusts up to 40 miles an hour.

That’s going to make the long ball pretty tough to execute, not to mention any other throw.

But if you ignore the weather, you’ve then got the Eagles defense to contend with. Webb can expect the Eagles to try and confuse him by disguising blitzes and, playing as if they’re going to blitz then backing off, and generally changing things up just before the snap. They will try and force him to make bad reads and poor decisions.

As a result, I’d expect what passes he does throw will be short and designed to be extended run plays to get the ball in the hands of Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson to let them do what they do.

If the Vikings can execute their ground game, it will keep the Eagles from simply putting pressure on Webb every play.

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RUN GAME
Regardless of whether or not Adrian Peterson suits up tonight, I’d expect the Vikings to run the ball a lot, not simply because it is Leslie Frazier‘s preference, but because of the field conditions and the fact that we’ve got a young quarterback taking snaps.

I think the issue will be moot, though, after the first quarter. I’m guessing the Eagles will have such a big lead by then that it won’t make much sense to continue to pound the ball, if we hope to hang with them.

BOTTOM LINE
This and next Sunday’s game should be all about what players we let go next year and, conversely, who we build around.

Unfortunately for Joe Webb, it will not be a fair assessment, given the awful play of our offensive line. You just gotta hope he can survive the psychic trauma of having defenders in your face on nearly every play.

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY
Happy Belated Birthday yesterday to offensive lineman Patrick Brown (24)!

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