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I had a chance to review several Minnesota games via NFL Gamepass, so wanted to give my takeaways, and how we stack up. Reviewing the statistical analysis, Minnesota ranks very high in total defense, specifically against the run. Against the pass they are good as well, just outside of the top 10. Offensively, they rank very close to the Falcons in the air, and slightly better with the run. Over the last several weeks the Vikings have been very good in the red zone, but comparatively, the Falcons offense is clicking and trending our stats up. Minnesota on Offense: In the run game, they are very straight forward with their blocking schemes. Not a lot of counters or misdirection, inside zone, but their big guys don't really get a lot of push or get to the 2nd level effectively. They do very little receiver runs, but against a defense with a lot of speed, they could give one or two looks at this to keep us honest. Where McKinnon and Murray can hurt us is with the cutback, so our backside run fits need to be on point to eliminate the potential for explosive plays. If big boys up front play solid, keep the middle clogged, it should allow our LB's/Neal to contain. Both of their RB's stay fairly patient and wait for a hole, so if we get our guys to beat one on one blocks, we can contain. Minnesota's pass game has been effective, but not necessarily overwhelming. They integrate a number of receiver screens to get their guys into space, which the Falcons haven't been great against in the last couple weeks. Case Keenum has played well, and delivering the ball on time for the most part. One thing we need to be aware of is Keenum's ability to run when pressured. He doesn't hesitate to pull it down and run if he recognizes man to man coverage with DB's backs to him. Don't think we need to spy, but our rushers need to be aware of his ability. He typically doesn't extend plays to throw downfield, but looks to get to the sticks. Thielen and Diggs are good receivers, and can beat man to man coverage, but if Keenum is pressured in the pocket, he tends to rush throws and be offline. Kyle Rudolph is a good TE, but our guys should be able to keep him under wraps. 4 man pressure, with concerted effort to keep Keenum from taking off, they shouldn't be able to do too much damage. Minnesota on Defense: Front 7 is very aggressive, and like the Falcons scheme, try to push their 4 down lineman to attack gaps and get upfield. Our O-Line can get good push in inside zone schemes, and should be able to be effective enough to keep our play action a part of the gameplan. This would be a great game to get Freeman back, as his jump cuts and wiggle between the tackles could offer opportunities to be more effective against their aggressiveness. We will see their LB's attack downhill, and they do a good job of timing snap counts to get a jump on their run blitzes. Ryan will need to keep his cadence varied, to try and stop their guys from getting an extra step. Because they are so aggressive, there will be some opportunities middle of the field if we can stay in good down and distance situations. Big chunks of yards are there, as they run man to man often. Both of their corners are physical, but Waynes can be exploited and like Alford, holds when compromised. Typically bring 4 man pressure, and Everson Griffen is very good. Mainly a speed rusher, but will pull off a spin move or two. They don't stunt much, just attack gaps with their quickness, so Ryan's pocket awareness will be key. If Ryan can move laterally to get extra time, we'll have opportunities downfield. If we get into 3rd and long, they almost always blitz as Zimmer's defenses have always gone after the QB with pressure from LB's. A lot of man to man, so our receivers need to catch balls in traffic. We haven't been great running the screen game this year, but if Ryan can diagnose quickly, I could see Gabriel having a very good day if we run screens against that blitz package. They are a good tackling team, but if we get the right officials that don't allow the DBs to keep their hands on receivers, we could see several PI's in our favor. Minnesota Special Teams: There will be opportunities here, specifically in the punt return game. Vikings punt teams have repeatedly given up plays, and could be integral for us to get good field position. Roberts has been more competent as of late, and this may be his time to shine. Forbath is decent kicker, but we will have a chance to get our hands on a couple kicks up the middle. In all, the Vikings are a solid offensive team, and very good defensive team. Our ability to get yards on first down will be integral to our success, and our receivers ability to win one on one matchups are key to keeping drives going. This will be a hard fought game, and the home field advantage should be enough for put us over the edge. My prediction 26-20 Falcons pull it out on the leg of Matt Bryant.
Desmond Trufant has had a great 2 games so far. While other parts of the team are still a work in progress, we are gonna need another solid performance from Trufant. Vincent Jackson does have the physical advantage, but Trufant has been in position and making plays on the ball through 2 games. It would not surprise me to see Trufant continue his good play, and maybe get his 1st INT of the season on thursday night. #RiseUP