After a home game with Carolina, the Falcons hit the road again for their third game against the NFC North, this time against the Minnesota Vikings. Atlanta knows first-hand how tough it is to pull out a win at U.S. Bank Stadium, as they opened the season there last year, and the game was over by halftime. Hopefully, they are a little more prepared this time around since the game is taking place in the middle of the year.
Chase Irle’s Prediction
The Vikings may not be the NFC’s best team, but they always put a well-disciplined product on the field and have the Falcons number. Minnesota cruised to a 28-12 victory in Week 1 last year, and that score looks a lot closer than it actually was. They’ve also won four straight in the series — two at home and two on the road. Mike Zimmer has been brilliant in scheming against Julio Jones, one of the only coaches who has been able to do so, forcing Matt Ryan to beat them with someone else. He hasn’t been able to do so thus far, combining for just 21 points in their last two matchups.
Offensively, the Falcons shouldn’t be too worried about Kirk Cousins beating them, but Dalvin Cook had a field day against Atlanta last year. Dan Quinn should have all his troops focused on defending the run, forcing Cousins to make plays with his arm. If Atlanta can’t stop Cook, they have zero chance of winning on the road. If they can, however, they might be able to pull out a critical win. The Vikings parted ways with Stefon Diggs, and I love their new wide receiver, Justin Jefferson, as much as anyone, but he won’t be able to immediately replace that production, making things even more difficult for Cousins. Still, I think Minnesotta’s run-game and Mike Zimmer’s ability to gameplan for the Falcons offense shines through, as the Vikings home field plays a significant factor.
Falcons 20, Vikings 27
Jake Gordon’s Prediction
Perhaps the most frustrating game of last season was also the season opener. Dalvin Cook ran wild on the Falcons defense, and Kirk Cousins only had to complete eight passes for 98 yards to secure the win. This time around, Atlanta has to lock up the run game to have success. Minnesota is short Stefon Diggs and Xavier Rhodes, but they’re still a complete team. Mike Zimmer gameplans well for the Falcons once again, and Atlanta drops their 2nd game of the season, while the Vikings make it five in a row vs. the Falcons
Falcons 21 Vikings 31