The Clarion Ledger
National Football League
Preview
Minnesota at Philadelphia
When: 6:40 PM ET, Sunday, January 21, 2018
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Eagles attempt to hold serve at home despite being tagged as underdogs for the second consecutive contest on Sunday as they host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. The top-seeded Eagles benefited from a late defensive stand to fend off Atlanta last week while the second-seeded Vikings scored an improbable last-second touchdown to stun New Orleans.

Case Keenum (career-high 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and 98.3 passer rating) took a light-hearted approach upon addressing the media on Wednesday, three days after connecting with Stefon Diggs on a 61-yard scoring strike to complete the "Minneapolis Miracle" in a 29-24 triumph over the Saints. "I know this is what you guys all predicted: A (Nick) Foles vs. Keenum NFC Championship Game," he said, referencing the unlikely matchup pitting himself against a quarterback who is one year removed from seriously considering retirement. "It's been a crazy journey," the 28-year-old Foles, who was acquired with Keenum by the then-St. Louis Rams on the same day (March 10, 2015) before ultimately returning to Philadelphia in a backup role, told reporters. Foles has endured an uneven ride while filling in for the injured Carson Wentz, but he completed 23-of-30 passes for 246 yards in a 15-10 win over the Falcons.

TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -3. O/U: 39

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (14-3): Diggs overcame a slow start to finish with six catches for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, giving him 28 receptions and four scores in his last five games. Fellow wideout Adam Thielen (team-leading 91 catches, 1,276 yards), who finished with six receptions versus New Orleans for the third time in five contests, returned to practice on Thursday after being plagued by a lower-back injury. Latavius Murray rushed for a touchdown last week to increase his total to 22 since 2016 (including playoff games) as he heads into a tilt against the NFL's top-ranked run defense.

ABOUT THE EAGLES (14-3): Jay Ajayi stumbled out of the blocks with a fumble on his first carry last week before finishing with 54 yards rushing and 44 receiving on three catches. The 24-year-old clearly has become Philadelphia's top option out of the backfield following an in-season trade with Miami, but the terrain could be tough against Minnesota's top-ranked overall defense. Alshon Jeffery, who saw all four of his catches result in first downs last week, had a team-best nine touchdown receptions this season and has scored seven times in nine career games versus the Vikings.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Minnesota is bidding to snap a string of five straight losses in the NFC Championship Game and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl XI.

2. Philadelphia lost its last NFC title game appearance against Arizona in the 2008 season, although it emerged victorious the last time it hosted the contest (27-10 win over Atlanta, 2004 season).

3. The home team has won the last eight conference championship games.

PREDICTION: Vikings 20, Eagles 16
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
Minnesota 14-3 W4 24.2 16.2 8-1 6-2 4-2 0-0 - - 11-2
Philadelphia 14-3 W1 27.8 17.9 8-1 6-2 12-2 0-0 - - 11-2
Last Meeting
Minnesota Philadelphia
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/23/16 MIN 10 PHI 21 282 93 189 239 101 138
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota S. Bradford 58.5 224 1 1
Philadelphia C. Wentz 57.1 138 1 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota M. Asiata 12 55 4.6 0
Philadelphia R. Mathews 14 56 4.0 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota C. Patterson 7 67 9.6 1
Philadelphia J. Huff 4 39 9.8 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota C. Patterson 1
Philadelphia D. Green-Beckham 1
Season (Regular Season and Playoffs)
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Minnesota C. Keenum 67.2 3865 23 8
Philadelphia C. Wentz 60.2 3296 33 7
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Minnesota L. Murray 235 892 3.8 9
Philadelphia L. Blount 182 785 4.3 3
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Minnesota A. Thielen 97 1350 13.9 4
Philadelphia Z. Ertz 77 856 11.1 8
Touchdowns Player TD
Minnesota S. Diggs 9
Philadelphia N. Agholor 9