By Matthew Asher
With their systematic dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)in their 56-14 win last Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons (2-1) will head up north to take on the Minnesota Vikings (1-2). Given all the issues with the Vikings personnel, Atlanta has a good chance at getting their first away victory of the season.
Vikings Inept Offense
Minnesota’s offense ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every important statistic. Averaging just 16.7 points per game, the Vikings have the fifth worst scoring offense in the NFL. The problem with the Vikings scoring has been their inconsistency. In Minnesota’s victory against the St. Louis Rams, they scored 34 points. In their two losses to the Patriots and Saints, the Vikings scored just 7 and 9 points, respectively.
Of course, scoring is much easier when you constantly are moving the chains. This is yet another part of the game that Minnesota has struggled with early in the season. The Vikings offense has gained the fourth-least yards, averaging just 273 yards per game.
Both quarterbacks for Minnesota, Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater haven’t been too effective as their 173.7 passing yards per game rank them as second-to-last. They’ve combined to complete 53 of their 91 passes (58 percent) for 575 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Cassel is responsible for all the touchdowns and interceptions.
Abysmal Rushing Attack
When you hear Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson should immediately come to mind. Now with his suspension from all team activities until his child abuse case is resolved, Atlanta’s run-stopping defense should finally get a chance to tee off on the backs.
Even before his suspension, Peterson didn’t lead the team in rushing yards. Actually, he’s currently third on the roster with 75 yards on 21 carries. The team leader is actually wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has 95 rushing yards on just four carries. (It helps when one run goes for 67 yards). The leading running back for the Vikings in Matt Asiata, who has 81 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
Minnesota's Decent Defense
The saving grace of the Vikings team has been the defense. While it hasn’t made national news, the Minnesota defense ranks in the top half of the league in the four big categories. The one that matters the most is the one the Vikings have done the best: limit scoring. Allowing just 18.7 points a game, Minnesota actually has the ninth-best score preventing defense. As far as total yards allowed, the 335.3 given up is the 11th-best in the league.
The passing defense gives up 225.3 yards, ranking them at 14th in the league. Even though Jared Allen no longer plays for them, Minnesota has picked up seven sacks in their first three games. Tom Johnson and Everson Griffen lead the team with two sacks apiece. The problem has been Minnesota’s lack of turnovers as they currently are at negative-two in that department. Only two interceptions have been recorded for the Vikings with one going to Harrison Smith (which was returned 81 yards for a touchdown) and the other to Josh Robinson.
With Atlanta getting an extra three days of rest, the team should have plenty of pep in their step and a solid game plan when they head to TFC Bank Stadium this Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 pm ET. #RiseUp
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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