Neither the Eagles nor the Vikings opened 2023 as they would’ve liked, but one of them at least left Week 1 with a victory. Whereas Minnesota fumbled away its home opener to Baker Mayfield and the overlooked Buccaneers, Philadelphia nearly squandered but then preserved a road win over the Patriots. Now, the uneven NFC contenders will square off in a prime-time “Thursday Night Football” clash to kick off Week 2 — and hopefully restore some faith in their respective 2023 campaigns.
This is the second straight year the Eagles will host the Vikings for a Week 2 home opener. Last year’s meeting marked a coming-out party for Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts, who broke out for a national audience in a 24-7 rout. But the reality is these two teams have an even deeper recent history — most of which suggests the reigning NFC champions could be in for a confidence boost.
Besides setting the stage for Hurts’ 2022 MVP bid, the Vikings have given the Eagles lots of reasons to celebrate over the last half-decade or so: In both 2021 and 2018, their end-of-season losses helped Philly clinch a playoff berth, in 2017, they fell victim to Nick Foles and Co. in a 38-7 NFC title-game defeat, which allowed the Eagles to advance to — and win — Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. In 2016, their trade for Eagles QB Sam Bradford helped kick off the Carson Wentz era, which indirectly led to a title run.
None of that’s to say Minnesota couldn’t upset the Eagles in Philly on Thursday night. On paper, these are two teams in very different places, the host Birds looking to return to the Super Bowl for the third time in seven years and the transitioning Vikings amid what general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah tabbed a “competitive rebuild.” But entering Week 2, they’re just two imperfect playoff hopefuls looking to build early-season momentum.
How will their showdown unfold? How can you tune in? Here’s everything you need to know:
How to watch
- When: Thursday, Sept. 14 | 8:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Lincoln Financial Field — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Live stream: Prime Video
- Odds: Eagles -7; O/U 48 (via SportsLine consensus odds)
Note: “Thursday Night Football” is nationally broadcast on Prime Video, but Eagles vs. Vikings is also available locally via Fox, which can be streamed on fubo.
Keys to the game
- Will Kirk Cousins have time to throw? Besides two fumbled snaps, the Vikings quarterback was OK against the Bucs in Week 1, but now he’s got two key blockers banged up in left tackle Christian Darrisaw and center Garrett Bradbury. Worse yet, the Eagles still boast one of the game’s top defensive fronts, with rookie Jalen Carter a threat to wreak havoc up the middle. Pressure led to Cousins throwing three picks in last year’s ugly outing vs. Philly, and the Eagles will be bringing heat.
- Who can guard Justin Jefferson? You can set your watch to Jefferson cruising into wide-open spaces downfield, regardless of whether the Vikings win. Granted, the star wideout was well covered when the Eagles last matched up with him, but starting cornerback James Bradberry is a long shot to suit up for Philly after entering concussion protocol. That leaves Darius Slay and an unproven group of fellow defensive backs to keep track of Jefferson and rookie Jordan Addison, who flashed in Week 1.
- Can Jalen Hurts take advantage of the blitz? Last year, the Vikings were wholly reactionary as a defense, allowing Hurts to sit back and air it out. This year, under new coordinator Brian Flores, they blitzed more often than anyone else in Week 1. Hurts looked uncomfortable and leaned into short-yardage scrambling against the Patriots to start the year. This time around, if Flores sends extra rushers, can he capitalize by feeding big targets like A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert?
The Eagles’ first showing of 2023 occasionally felt a lot more like 2021 than 2022, with Jalen Hurts fleeing from the pocket and losing the ball late. But they weren’t the only vaunted team to slip up in Week 1 (see: Bengals, Chiefs, etc.) and, most encouragingly, they have the talent to rebound in a hurry. Jefferson, Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson give Minnesota a scary pass-catching trio, but if everything starts in the trenches, the Eagles still have the upper hand, with Jalen Carter, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat poised to get after Kirk Cousins and a sluggish Vikings run game that lacked a Dalvin Cook punch in Week 1.
Brian Flores is aggressive and creative enough to give Jalen Hurts some fits, but even then, it’s a lot to ask of Minnesota’s makeshift lineup, featuring an injured Marcus Davenport and young corners like Akayleb Evans, to lock down play-makers like A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Throw in the fact this will take place in Philly, under the night lights with a juiced crowd, and the ingredients are there for Nick Sirianni’s squad to take a leap forward atop the NFC East.
Pick: Eagles 31, Vikings 22
I like my pick for this game, but you might like R.J. White’s better. He’s our gambling guru over at SportsLine.com and he’s been on roll with his Vikings predictions, going 56-31-4 on his last 91 picks, which means he has an absurd .626 hit rate with his Vikings picks. If you want to check out White’s pick, you can do that here.