At first glance, the 3-9-1 Minnesota Vikings don't appear to be all that big of a challenge for the 8-5 Philadelphia Eagles. A closer look at the Vikings' schedule, however, reveals that Minnesota has lost five games this season by 10 points of fewer. The Vikings are a couple of key possessions away from perhaps having a winning record, and Chip Kelly knows that the three in the Vikings' win column doesn't mean all that much.
"They're a really good football team," Kelly said on Thursday. "If you turn the tape on, last week's game against the Ravens is the same thing. That's why I don't think about looking over opponents or all of those other things- just turn the tape on and see how hard they play.
"They've got a lot of outstanding players. They have a group of receivers that is very difficult to matchup with especially with the rookie (Cordarrelle) Patterson in there. You've got a lot of different guys. They have two outstanding running backs, they've got a great defensive line, and there are a lot of really good football players there."
Sunday's trip to Minnesota will be the first time that the Eagles play indoors this season, which is a nice change of pace after last weekend's snowy conditions. Like all domed stadiums, Mall of America Field is known to get very loud, but Kelly is confident that the Eagles are well prepared for the noisy environment.
"You just go play," said Kelly. "Obviously it's going to be a little bit louder, but we've worked with sound since the first day of practice. You're going to have to make an adjustment when you get there, but besides that, there aren't many adjustments that you can make."
The Eagles have been firing on all cylinders during their five-game winning streak, yet Kelly still believes that there are a number of areas that the team can stand to improve. All season long, the Eagles head coach has preached the importance of not just creating turnovers as a defense, but capitalizing on them by turning them into points. In Sunday's game against Detroit, the Lions turned the ball over three times, resulting in just one touchdown from the Eagles, but Kelly doesn't think that game serves as the best example.
"We look at (points off of turnovers), and I think that Sunday's game is a little bit of an outlier," Kelly explained. "The ball was turned over a lot but we weren't moving the ball very well, I think because of conditions. It's not just turnovers, it's what you do with them, and also I think that coaching your defensive guys, just because we turned it over doesn't mean we have to let them score either. It's a two-fold question, but it is something that as our defense continues to create takeaways for us, we have to do a better job of capitalizing and turning them into points."
The Eagles defense could receive some extra help this weekend in terms of depth. Safety Earl Wolff has missed the last three games with a knee injury and linebacker Najee Goode missed the Detroit game with a hamstring injury, but both players could possibly return this weekend. Though Wolff has been practicing all week and Goode returned to the practice field today, Kelly, as always, is taking the wait-and-see approach when it comes to the status of his players.
"We'll see, we have three more days of training," Kelly said. "(Wolff) made it through a lot more yesterday than he did on Tuesday, so we'll see how he progresses … Najee Goode is going to practice today, so we'll see how he is, and when we get to Saturday we'll make a determination of where everybody is.
"We can only have 46 guys active on game day, but if I sit here all day long doing 'Well, if he's healthy what do we do here? Then this guy gets hurt and he goes here so what's my job?' Let's just wait until Saturday and find out from the trainers who can go, and then make a decision based on special teams and depth on where are we going to be."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider.