Matt Asiata

The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to play for, but they’re still a major player in the molding of the playoff picture. Without Adrian Peterson, they managed to beat the Philadelphia Eagles with a fine performance from Matt Cassel and their third-string running back, Matt Asiata, which ruined the Eagles’ chances of almost finishing off their problems in the NFC East.

With the 30-48 loss, maybe the toughest and hardest to explain for Chip Kelly since he took over for Andy Reid (now 8-6), the Eagles now are focused on the final game of the season in two weeks against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas, unless the Cowboys lose their next game which will clinch the playoff spot for the Eagles with a week to spare.

The Vikings can’t finish with a better record than 6-9-1 in the NFC North that has gotten away from them. But Leslie Frazier is fighting for his job, and there are other players who want to ensure they’re on this team next season or getting a deal from anyone in the offseason. Cassel, a quarterback no one wanted to touch, suddenly looks like the best of the bunch for the Vikings, throwing two touchdown passes on 26-of-35 for 382 yards.

Nick Foles got through the snow bowl in Philadelphia, but seemed to be going too much for the tough pass and the deep ball, attempting 11 passes for over 20 yards downfield, completing only two of them. Cassell was 4-of-5 on such throws, hitting Greg Jennings on a 57-yard play for the first touchdown of the game. Cassel also ran for one, but on the ground, Matt Asiata was the hero of the game.

Matt Cassel

The 26-year old had only 3 career carries going into the game, but ended up running 30 times for 51 yards, scoring three touchdowns, all of the for 5 yards or less. He’s not going to put up big rushing numbers, but it’s not bad to find out you have someone to trust in goalline or third down situations, considering how careful the Vikings need to be with Adrian Peterson, if he plays again at all this season.

Greg Jennings has mostly been a flop on his first year with the team, but this was the game that made it seem like he has plenty left in the tank. Cassel targeted him 13 times, and Jennings answered with 11 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown. It was his first 100-yard game for the Vikings, passing that mark before the end of the first half.

This made things clear for the Eagles more than it did for the Vikings. Nick Foles isn’t the stud the numbers from the last five weeks have shown, not yet. It also taught them that staying away from LeSean McCoy, even when trying to come from behind, might not be the best of ideas. McCoy had only 8 carries for 38 yards, which is always bad for the Eagles, who rely on his ability to break for big runs so heavily, and can’t throw everything on Foles who isn’t as good as his passer rating numbers might suggest.

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