Three Keys: Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons

Well, folks, we got our first game prediction right. Admittedly, the score was closer than we anticipated, but they found a way to lose (as they often do). In Week 6, the Minnesota Vikings are at home against the Atlanta Falcons, one of the worst teams in the NFL. It basically goes without saying that the Vikings desperately need this win.

Key #1: Alexander Mattison vs. Atlanta’s Front Seven

Last season, the Vikings beat the Falcons pretty badly, largely due to a dominant run game. Dalvin Cook had a huge game statistically, complete with a highlight-reel hit on Deion Jones.

With Cook out until after the bye, Alexander Mattison will carry the load. The Vikings will win this game if they can consistently control the time of possession and pickup first downs (the Falcons aren’t the Seahawks). They can only accomplish this goal if Mattison runs well.

Key #2: Irv Smith Jr. vs. Deion Jones

Irv Smith Jr. finally had a breakout game. He was targeted five times, resulting in four catches for 64 yards. Gary Kubiak evidently prioritized getting Smith more involved, and for good reason. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands. Most players his size can’t move like Smith.

Jones will likely be tasked with slowing Minnesota’s TEs. The PFF scores suggest that Jones isn’t playing up to his usual elite standards. Nevertheless, Jones has great speed. He is a perfect linebacker for the modern NFL. The Smith/Jones match up is one to focus on.

Key #3: Cameron Dantzler vs. Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley

Somewhat unexpectedly, Julio Jones is available this Sunday. This means that Cameron Dantzler will regularly be matched up on one of two elite receivers: Jones or Calvin Ridley.

Dantzler had a really rough final drive in the Seattle loss. Put simply, Dantzler wasn’t up to the task of covering D.K. Metcalf on two critical 4th downs. Life doesn’t get much easier on Sunday. Expect Mike Zimmer to help his young corner by giving him plenty of help from star safeties Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith. You can also expect Matt Ryan to look in Dantzler’s direction early in the game.

The Crystal Ball

Our record, like Minnesota’s, stands at a disappointing 1-4. We haven’t been rewarded for our faith in the purple (there are many Vikings fans who likely say the same thing). Alas, we must press on in the futile hope that we will both be 2-4. The Minnesota Vikings will head into their bye with a decisive win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Offseason Prediction: Vikings 24 – Falcons 14

Updated Prediction: Vikings 35 – Falcons 21

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