Eagles

Nelson Agholor and Howie Roseman, please accept our apologies

Nelson Agholor and Howie Roseman, please accept our apologies

Wednesday on Quick Slants, we felt the need to own up to our mistakes. We had previously written off two men who have helped the Eagles to their NFL-best 6-1 record, so a couple apology letters were in order.

• • •

Dear Howie,
Like many ... there was a time when I felt that you had to go. Some of your personnel decisions left me beating my head against the wall, wondering who thought it was a good idea to put you in charge. Your drafts and free-agent signings were more misses than hits.

For every Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox you drafted, there were way too many Danny Watkinses, Marcus Smiths, Jaiquawn Jarretts and Daniel Te'o-Nesheims.

Many of your free-agent signings were free falls. Yeah, I'll give you credit for getting it right with Connor Barwin and Malcolm Jenkins. But you bamboozled us with Nnamdi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Vince Young and Byron Maxwell.

But you were man enough to step to the podium time and time again to dodge every verbal stone hurled your way to explain your perplexing moves and vowed to get it right.

After the Chip Kelly fiasco, surely Jeffrey Lurie would look outside the organization to bring a fresh thought process to lead this team in a new direction, but oh nooooo, he put you back in charge, and I thought to myself: Another seven-year drought is upon us.

But lo and behold, since you've returned from exile after wandering the deserts pondering football life, you've become the Theo Epstein of the NFL. You cleaned up and cleared out Kelly's mistakes. You brought in a true football mind in Joe Douglas, and you revamped your scouting department.

What you did in 2016 to maneuver up the first-round ladder in the draft to select your new franchise quarterback was nothing short of brilliant. The free agents you signed in 2017 have been excellent.

This year, I don't go to practices wondering how many of these guys are getting cut after the season. Instead, I wonder how many of them you will be able to keep. 

Like you, I stand here today a changed man. I no longer call for your head on a silver platter. Instead, I applaud you for being aggressive and daring. I'm man enough to admit I was wrong about you. You have finally earned my respect.

Sincerely,
D-Gunn

• • •

Dear Nelson,
Let me first apologize for not being sympathetic to your cause. 

I never had the weight of living up to being the first-round draft pick of the Eagles. I was drafted in the second round.

I saw what Mike Mamula went through mentally to live up to those expectations. I also admit that I played O-line, so I never had to catch a football thrown 50 yards over your shoulder while a 220-pound safety running a 4.4 40 comes hurling at you trying to knock your head off.

Although I never signed the petition to get you cut — because I don't believe in stopping a player from getting their money — I did wager a dollar, or two, or three, or even 4,000 that you wouldn't last the offseason in Philly.

So I now give you mad props and respect for proving myself and the 3.5 million people in Philadelphia wrong for selling you short and thinking you wouldn't last as an NFL player.

Congrats and carry on — you are now the best wide receiver on the roster. So, my apologies, Nelson Agholor.

I know what it is to feel the high expectation of playing in the City of Brotherly Love, which gave you no love. At least they let you stay and work out your difficulties. Me? They cut and kicked me the hell out of town!

Sincerely,
Barrett Brooks

What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

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What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

Several parking lots outside the Linc will open as early as 11:30 a.m. Sunday for fans who require extra time preparing for kickoff for the NFC Championship Game.

The Wells Fargo Center lots as well as the M and N lots — located just east of the stadium — and the P lot, next to Citizens Bank Park, are scheduled to open at 11:30 a.m., the Eagles announced.

The Linc's K lot, just north of the stadium, will open at 1 p.m.

The Citizens Bank Park lots are scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

Gates to the Head House Plaza open at 3:30 p.m. and the inner gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m. Located on the north end of the stadium, The Head House Plaza offers outdoor bars, food stands, live music and numerous other pregame activities for fans arriving early. It also includes an entrance to the Eagles Pro Shop.

The Eagles and Vikings kick off the NFC Championship Game at 6:40 p.m.

Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

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Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

Another week, another game with the Eagles being the underdog.

After a dominant defensive performance in a 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round, the Eagles will welcome the No. 2 seed Vikings to the Linc for the NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. on FOX).

Despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage, Minnesota is the favorite to advance and play the Super Bowl on their home field in Minneapolis.

Our analysts all had the Birds winning last week. This week, we’ll see who has the Eagles advancing to Super Bowl LII.

Reuben Frank (15-2)
Two great defenses blah blah blah. Underdogs blah blah blah. Carson Wentz got hurt blah blah blah. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game." OK, LOUDER: "CASE KEENUM IS NOT GOING TO COME INTO THE LINC AND WIN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME." Maybe I'd feel differently if the Vikings were home or if a future Hall of Famer like Drew Brees were coming to town, but you're talking about a relatively inexperienced quarterback who plays his home games in a dome coming into South Philadelphia and dealing with crowd noise, changing weather, a hostile environment and a ferocious defense that's allowed five touchdowns and 9.2 points per game in its last six home games. I don't think Case Keenum can handle what he's about to face Sunday afternoon. I think we're all headed to Minneapolis. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 9

Dave Zangaro (14-3)
I never thought this day would come, if I'm being honest. If you told me in the summer the Eagles were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. 

If you would have told me they were going to be in the NFC Championship Game without Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Now, I'm the crazy one. Because despite all of that and despite the Eagles' technically being the underdogs in this game, I think they're going to win it. 

Had the Saints won last Sunday, I probably wouldn't think that. The thought of Brees coming to town would have been enough for me to pick against the Birds. But then the Minnesota Miracle happened and as great as it was for the Vikings, it could end up being great for the Eagles too. 

Sure, the Vikings are a really good team and maybe they have the best statistical defense in the league and maybe Case Keenum will never come back to Earth. But the Eagles have a pretty good defense too, a good defense that's even better at home. Nick Foles doesn't need to be Wentz, but he will need to make some big-time throws Sunday; I think he does. I think the defense clamps down at home. I think this improbable run somehow keeps going. 

I think the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 13

Derrick Gunn (14-3)
These two teams mirror each other so much. Both are guided by quarterbacks who were backups on their depth charts when this long journey began. Both have defenses that can clamp down on opposing offenses. Both with identical records. And both have never won a Super Bowl (Vikings 0-4, Eagles 0-2). 

For Foles, it's imperative that he stays within himself. Stick to the short, high-percentage passing game and hopefully get some much-needed help from the run game. 

Against the Falcons, the Eagles had 49 yards rushing in the opening quarter but only 47 the rest of the game against Atlanta's ninth-ranked run defense. 

Minnesota's defense is ranked No. 1 overall, No. 2 against the run, No. 2 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. 

The Eagles' defensive front has to get to Keenum before he can find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both are excellent route runners with exceptional hands. What a matchup up this is. Pat Shurmur's offense against Jim Schwartz's defense. 

I've gone back and forth all week on who will win this game in what could be your basic backyard brawl. So what I came up with is this: In the final seconds of the game, the Eagles will be down one point when Jake Elliott gets the call and nails a 50-yarder as time expires. Eagles win and dance their way to the Super Bowl.

Eagles 23, Vikings 21

Ray Didinger (15-2)
Offenses are scoring at a record pace and yardage totals keep mounting. The typical NFL Sunday is all about the point totals climbing and fantasy owners cashing in. But now we're in the post-season and this is when the defense flexes its muscles. This is when scores go down and hitting picks up.

When the Eagles and Vikings meet for the NFC championship, it will be all about defense. The Vikings allowed the fewest points (15.8 per game) and fewest yards (276 per game) during the regular season. The Eagles allowed the fewest yards rushing (79 per game) and allowed just 26 points in the last three games, including the 15-10 win over Atlanta in the divisional playoff.

The Vikings had the best defense in the league on third down allowing 25.2 percent conversions. The Eagles defense was equally stingy at home (26.6 percent). The key to winning this game on the offensive side will be avoiding negative plays. A sack, a penalty, anything that creates a third-and-long situation will kill a drive. A five-yard run will be a big play in this game.

I think the Eagles pressure will eventually get to Keenum and that will be the difference.

Eagles 16, Vikings 13

Andrew Kulp (14-3)
The Vikings are a vastly better team than the Falcons in 2017-18, so I'm not sure I quite understand the confidence in the Eagles locally. Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the notion that it's hard to pick Keenum at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship.

Home-field has and will continue to be a big advantage for the Eagles. The crowd will rattle Keenum the way it did Matt Ryan last week, while simultaneously allowing Foles and the Birds' offense to communicate protection calls against the Vikings' exotic pressure packages.

Compare the two rosters side by side, and they're relatively close in terms of talent. It's pretty much a coin flip. The fans are what move the needle here. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles?

Eagles 26, Vikings 17

Corey Seidman (12-4)
Equal QBs. Eagles have the run game advantage. Vikings have the better WR group. Eagles have the better TEs and offensive line. Vikings have the better secondary. 

This one feels like an extremely close game. But with homefield advantage and a better kicker, I’m 52 percent confident the Eagles pull it out and advance to the Super Bowl. 

(Wouldn’t it be the most Philly thing ever, though, if the Jaguars upset the Patriots, Eagles fans go crazy, and then the Birds lose?) 

Eagles 13, Vikings 10