BM: Sunday will be Nick Foles vs. Case Keenum, just what everyone predicted. Fill us in on the meteoric rise of Case Keenum and how he is perceived in Minnesota? Do people believe that he is a franchise quarterback?
JS: Given his previous NFL experience, Keenum looked like a nice pickup as a backup, but the kind of backup you didn't want to see play. Turns out, he's better than that. He was a little shaky early, caught fire after the bye, then played more the role of game manager down the stretch, as the Vikings finished up with a pretty easy schedule.
He moves exceptionally well in the pocket, runs well, throws on the run well, handles the blitz beautifully. The question right now is whether he can win a game against a good team while passing from the pocket. He has overachieved, and he has proven he can be a good NFL quarterback, but his horrific third-quarter interception against the Saints remains the kind of play that makes you wonder if he could win big long-term.
Minnesota fans are all-in on Keenum.
I think the organization is still weighing its options, because the coaching staff and front office love Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. All three quarterbacks will be free agents, and one could wind up going with Pat Shurmur if the Giants are ready to move on from Eli Manning.
I think the Vikings are still evaluating Keenum, and how he plays in the next game or two could be the deciding factor in his future in Minnesota.
BM: The Vikings defense has been incredible, how would you stack them up against other historically great defenses?
JS: They aren't quite as physically dominating as some of the great ones, and they don't create turnovers like some of the great ones. They're really a testament to coaching, cohesiveness and versatility. They make few mistakes and excel on third down. They can pressure the quarterback without relying on blitzes. Safety Harrison Smith is one of the best players in the game and is equally good against the run or pass, and is an excellent blitzer. Xavier Rhodes has become one of the league's best corners, and Trae Waynes is the most improved member of the secondary.
The linebackers cover well, and the corners tackle well. They are not reliant on any one player or phase of the game.
Their ends, Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, are exceptional athletes. Linval Joseph may be their hidden MVP. On a defense based on speed, he is the speed bump.
BM: Which Vikings player should Eagles fans be concerned about the most come Sunday?
JS: Receiver Stefon Diggs. Adam Thielen always plays well. Kyle Rudolph has been slowed by a sore ankle. Diggs is the variable. When healthy, he can play like one of the NFL's best receivers. When banged up, he can disappear. With him, the Vikings' passing game is difficult to defend. If he's not completely healthy or productive, the defense can concentrate on Thielen.
BM: If the Vikings have a weakness, what would it be?
JS: Keenum is still proving himself and has a history of bad turnovers, even though he has been much better in that category this season. The offense has not been highly productive over the last six weeks, relying more on ball control and converting third downs, although they were dynamic in the first half against New Orleans. On paper, the offense is unimpressive - a journeyman quarterback, an older lead back, little depth at tight end. But Shurmur and the offensive linemen have made it all work.
BM: The Eagles proved a lot of people wrong by beating the Falcons, but most people are still writing them off with Nick Foles. How are the Eagles perceived in Minnesota? Do fans/ media members believe they are a threat?