The Star Tribune pours lots of resources into covering the Minnesota Vikings. Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer provide excellent beat work, Mark Craig provides our NFL-at-large and offbeat storytelling, and Chip Scoggins and I, both former Vikings beat writers, will provide preview and review columns all season. Plus, Patrick Reusse will offer his humor and historical perspective.
Unlike most newspapers, we've also retained a great photography staff. I know we all lean on online sources these days, but I encourage any Vikings fan to pick up the Monday paper because our photogs capture great images.
Chip and I will supplement our in-depth weekly coverage with pregame blogs, starting with this one.
Here's what I'm watching for today as the Vikings play the Falcons:
- The Vikings cornerbacks are coming off a so-so year, and face an oversized challenge today. Xavier Rhodes is 6-1 and was disappointing last year. Trae Waynes 6-foot and is in the last year of his contract and could either pout or play for his next deal. Mackensie Alexander is 5-11 and on the rise. That trio will contend with Julio Jones (6-3), Mohamed Sanu (6-2) and Calvin Ridley (6-1). Their size disparities might not seem dramatic, but in the modern NFL quarterbacks will throw the ball even when a quality receiver seems to be covered, and Jones and Ridley, in particular, are good at winning mid-air battles for the ball. This matchup could mean everything today, and Jones, having just signed a monster contract, may be highly motivated.
- The Vikings' offensive line is supposed to be improved, but right tackle Brian O'Neill missed preseason with a right arm injury. Can he play well in his first live action of the season, in a new system and under a new coach?
- Three Super Bowl ago, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to lose to the Patriots. Mark and I covered that game and Kyle Shanahan and Matt Ryan blew it. Two years ago, the Vikings needed the Minneapolis Miracle to win one playoff game, then got blown out by the Eagles. Neither franchise has won a Super Bowl, and both teams have looked affected by their big losses. Which team handles the pressure and disappointment better?
- Falcons back DeVonta Freeman was a big reason the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl, but has played in just 16 of 32 games since that loss. If he's fully healthy and explosive, he'll be difficult to contain. If he's not, the Falcons' offense becomes one-dimensional.
- In an interview with Ben Goessling, Kirk Cousins said he's not a savior. Now he tells us. Cousins could light it up today or in any given game, but he has yet to show the kind of leadership that you would want out of a player of his financial stature. This season, in many ways, is all about him, whether he likes it or not.
Here's my Sunday column on the pressure the Vikings' braintrust faces:
You can find my podcasts at TalkNorth.com