FALCONS RUN OFFENSE VS. VIKINGS RUN DEFENSE
The Vikings had one of the best run defenses in NFL history last year, allowing only 2.8 yards per carry (almost as good as the 2000 Ravens defense). Unless Pat Williams gets lazy all of sudden because of the contract extension he signed this week, it doesn’t seem like that is going to change. Will they probably give up more yards this year? There’s probably 99% chance the answer is yes. But will they still probably be one of the top run defenses in the league? It seems almost as likely that answer is yes as well. Our running game will take a hit because of our change in blocking schemes. Had we still had the zone blocking scheme, I wouldn’t be concerned at all. But with the change, we will have some trouble opening holes.
FALCONS PASS OFFENSE VS. VIKINGS PASS DEFENSE
The Vikings pass rush really struggled last season. It should be better this year (it can’t get much worse). But I think we should have an advantage at wide receiver, particularly when we go 3-wide, with Jenkins liking lining up in the slot and Horn on the outside. If they are matched up against Marcus McCauley and Cedric Griffin respectively, I think it bodes well for us. Our advantage isn’t huge, because our passing game is unproven, but I’m willing to give Petrino’s offense the benefit of the doubt.
VIKINGS RUN OFFENSE VS. FALCONS RUN DEFENSE
This was a tough one for me to give to the Vikings, but I’ll give it to them barely. Just because they have 2 healthy RBs with what should be a pretty good offensive line (particularly their left side), and we have injuries at defensive tackle. I don’t think the Vikings are going to run all over us on Sunday (although I’m sure they will certainly try), but I do think they’ll have the upperhand in this category.
VIKINGS PASS OFFENSE VS. FALCONS PASS DEFENSE
Now I think our secondary is the weakest aspect of our team, but I also think the Vikings passing game is weaker. Jackson didn’t have a good summer from most accounts, and I don’t think he’s going to be ready right away to lead this team. If this was perhaps Week 7, I might be singing a different tune, but Week 1, I think our weakened secondary can take advantage of their wide receivers and quarterback.
Now conventional wisdom suggests that the team that controls the ground game is going to win. Clearly, then the Vikings should win this game, particularly since they are at home. But as many know, conventional wisdom need not apply on Sundays. I also think we’ll be able to force some turnovers in Jackson, and I’m hopeful that Joey won’t be as turnover-prone vs. Minnesota as he has been in the past. I think that’s going to be the key. Turnovers. Whoever wins that battle will win this game. I’m putting my money on the Falcons for now.
Falcons 23, Vikings 20.