Atlanta Falcons vs. Vikings Predictions: Big showdown equals big win?
Writer: Erik Sandelin
Game: Minnesota Vikings (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (7-3)
Breakdown: This will be the Falcons’ toughest game so far, even tougher than the four losses they’ve suffered this season. The Vikings are red hot, and they’re a better team right now than the Bills were back in Week Four, the Dolphins in Week Six, the Patriots in Week Seven or the Panthers in Week Nine. Their defense gets all the notoriety (deservedly so), but their offense should be respected, too.
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Minnesota is fifth in total offense in terms of yards per game (the Falcons are sixth), 12th in passing (the Falcons are ninth, and sixth in rushing (the Falcons are tenth). For supposedly having a below-average offensive line, the Vikings have allowed only 12 sacks all year, and they are averaging four yards-per-carry in the running game. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are as dangerous a receiving tandem as there is in the league, and the Falcons are dinged up at cornerback.
Defensively, the Vikings rank fifth in total yards allowed (Atlanta is tenth), fifth in points allowed (Atlanta is 13th), 11th in passing yards allowed (Atlanta is 8th), ninth in sacks (as is Atlanta), and second against the run (Atlanta is 20th). They have multiple Pro Bowl-level players at every level of the defense, so this is going to be the most difficult challenge Steve Sarkisian, Matt Ryan, and Co. will face all year.
Nothing is impossible. The Falcons appear to have found their stride and have won three straight and four of their last five games. The offense is clicking. Confidence is high. A playoff berth – not to mention staying in the division title hunt – could be on the line here. Last but not least, the Falcons are at home for this one. All that said, I still think they’re going to come up a bit short on Sunday.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Atlanta 21