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Vikings-Falcons: Five Bold Predictions

The Falcons need to get back on track today and the Vikings … well the Vikings need to get back on track as well. So let’s get right on track with our Five Bold Predictions for the game …

MATT VENSEL, beat writer

The Vikings defense has just three takeaways since the bye week, but the Falcons have been in a giving mood in recent weeks, coughing up 12 turnovers in their past five weeks. The Vikings will get their hands on at least one of them Sunday and, what the heck, they’ll return one for a score.

MARK CRAIG, On The NFL columnist

The Vikings rank 28th in takeaways (11) and have only three of them since the bye week six games ago. So, naturally, they’ll get four takeaways on the road in a bounce-back win at Atlanta. I’d be tempted to pick the Falcons in a bigger bounce-back scenario, but I’ll go with a fourth straight loss for them because, A, Running back Devonta Freeman (concussion), who ranks No. 2 in yards from scrimmage and No. 1 in touchdowns, is out; B, Kicker Matt Bryant (quad) is out and has been replaced by Shayne Graham; C, The Falcons rank last in the league in sacks (12); and D, Atlanta is minus-6 in turnover ratio while going 1-4 the past five weeks .

JIM SOUHAN, columnist

Given that there were high expectations for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense, Stefon Diggs’ emergence might be the primary difference between the Vikings being 7-3 and 5-5. Today he returns to the forefront, using his quickness and footwork on the fast turf to produce another game-turning day, eclipsing 100 yards and making the biggest plays in a bounce-back Vikings victory.

CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist

Anthony Barr had two costly penalties in a loss to the Packers last week. The Vikings linebacker will redeem himself by creating two turnovers — a forced fumble and an interception — in a Vikings victory against the Falcons.

CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader

The Falcons won their first five games before losing four of five. During the past five, though, their defense has actually been better … it’s just that the offense and Matt Ryan keep giving the ball away. With Vikings safety Harrison Smith (knee) sidelined, Ryan won’t be bothered by pesky interceptions and will connect with Julio Jones as Antone Exum Jr. and Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo struggle in deep coverage. Jones scores two long TDs and the Falcons march to the win in Georgia.

Griffen is active, Exum will start and your pregame Vikings reading

With Harrison Smith out for today’s game against the Falcons, the Vikings have confirmed that Antone Exum will start for Smith at free safety.

Exum, a second-year safety, made a couple of big plays in the preseason. But coach Mike Zimmer said that he needed to see consistency from Exum, which is why Robert Blanton and then Andrew Sendejo were the ones who started opposite Smith. Now with Smith out, Exum will get his shot today.

Rookie cornerback Trae Waynes is also out today against the Falcons, and as a result fellow corner Josh Robinson is active for the first time all season.

This is not an ideal week to be shorthanded in the secondary. The Falcons have the NFL’s leading receiver in Julio Jones, who has 89 grabs for 1,189 yards so far this season. My guess is that the Vikings will ask Xavier Rhodes to shadow Jones while keeping a safety over top of him as much as they can.

There is some good news on the injury front, though. Defensive end Everson Griffen, the team’s leading sack-getter, will start today. He was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report due to hip and shoulder injuries.

In addition to Smith and Waynes, quarterback Taylor Heinicke, linebacker Edmond Robinson, defensive end Justin Trattou, and offensive linemen Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles are also inactive today.

Inactive for the Falcons are running back Devonta Freeman, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, cornerback Phillip Adams, offensive linemen James Stone and Bryce Harris, kicker Matt Bryant and defensive end Malliciah Goodman. Freeman, Hankerson and Smith were ruled out Friday.

Here is some pregame reading to keep you busy until the noon CDT kickoff:

— How good are the Vikings? We’re going to find out in the next 18 days.

— The move to bring in speedster Mike Wallace has not been paying off.

— The offensive line has been up and down, but center Joe Berger has been a valuable insurance policy with starter John Sullivan lost for the season.

— Even with Smith out, I picked the Vikings to win by a touchdown today.

2nd, 14:16 1 2 3 4 T
Minnesota 7-3 7 0 - - 7
Atlanta 6-4 0 0 - - 0

Today's Scoreboard

  • Oakland



    - H



  • New Orleans



    - H



  • Buffalo

    Kansas City


    - 2nd, 0:36



  • Minnesota



    - H



  • Miami

    NY Jets


    - 2nd, 0:14



  • San Diego



    - H



  • NY Giants



    - 2nd, 0:39



  • St. Louis



    - H



  • Tampa Bay



    - H



  • Arizona

    San Francisco

    3:05 PM


  • Pittsburgh


    3:25 PM


  • New England


    7:30 PM


  • Florida



    - 1st, 9:40



  • Milwaukee



    - 1st, 0:42



  • Minnesota

    LA Clippers

    2:30 PM

  • Boston


    5:00 PM

  • Phoenix


    5:00 PM

  • Philadelphia


    5:00 PM


  • Detroit


    5:00 PM

  • Houston

    New York

    6:30 PM

  • Indiana

    LA Lakers

    8:30 PM

  • Portland

    FC Dallas

    4:00 PM


  • Columbus

    New York

    6:30 PM


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