Atlanta Falcons: 3 Toughest Matchups in 2015

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Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during overtime at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12: Minnesota Vikings

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I have a good feeling about the Minnesota Vikings this year.

In his second year as head coach, Mike Zimmer will continue to build the team the way he wants, and they will be looking to build on a strong 2014.

They have a lot of work to do to turn their 7-9 season into a ten-plus win season, but the improvements they made from 2013 was remarkable and I expect more of the same.

The Vikings are a defensive-minded team, and they continue to grow in this area. The Vikings owned the seventh-best pass defense and were ranked 14th overall. They were let down by their 25th-ranked run defense, so it’s clear there is work to be done.

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Second rounder Eric Kendricks should help in this department, and it will be interesting to see what plans Zimmer has for third round pick Danielle Hunter. Selecting cornerback Trae Waynes in the first round made sense, too, given the high-powered passing games in the NFC North.

On offense, the Vikings have a talented young signal caller in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater had a solid rookie season, and should make strides. He will be aided by a returning Adrian Peterson, who can tilt the field in the Vikings’ favor each time he plays.

Stopping Peterson will be key for the Falcons, but they shouldn’t sleep on the passing game either. The Vikings’ defense is becoming harder and harder to score against, so the offense will need to find their rhythm in this one.

Next: Which Falcons game are you most excited about?