This game marks the third straight at home for the Falcons, and like the Titans this matchup with the Vikes definitely looks very winnable on paper. With another vet-rookie QB combo, this one featuring Donovan McNabb and current backup Christian Ponder, Minnesota is another team in transition. However, while the Vikings will likely have their share of hiccups this season, the Falcons will still have to worry about the likes of Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin in this week 12 matchup.
Record: Finished 6-10, missed playoffs in 2010
Last Meeting: December 21, 2008 (Falcons won 24-17, clinching a playoff spot in the process)
Notable Additions: QB Donovan McNabb (trade), WR Michael Jenkins, DT Remi Ayodele, DE Stylez G White, OT Charlie Johnson
Notable Losses: WR Sidney Rice, DE Ray Edwards, DT Pat Williams, QB Tarvaris Jackson, LB Ben Leber
I've come to find that without Brett Favre, I actually don't mind this team at all. In fact, it was the Vikings that made the Ray Edwards signing possible at all, which I of course love. Now, when a 6-10 team was getting more coverage than the 13-3 Falcons because of No. 4, that's when I get ticked off. But that's another can of worms, and I digress.
The Vikings big move this offseason was sending Sidney Rice and Tarvaris Jackson on their merry way to Seattle. However, the team also acquired McNabb at the ultimate buy-low price, a couple of late-round draft picks, and he certainly presents an upgrade over Tarvaris regardless of age. They also signed our own Michael Jenkins in an effort to boost the WR corps.
However, amidst all the offensive QB controversy this is still a team that quietly had the No. 8 defense in 2010. Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway, and EJ Henderson all return to the Vikes this season. Even with the losses of Pat Williams and Ray Edwards, that front seven is still pretty intimidating.
That's why the Falcons will have to open up the passing game. Fortunately for Atlanta, the Minnesota secondary is not exactly what I would call intimidating. Antoine Winfield is still a great cornerback despite his age, but beyond that I think we'll see Matt Ryan testing the other CB's on the roster.
The other key to this game will be (shocking, I know) Adrian Peterson. Lofton & Co. cannot let AP run all over them, especially if we're seeing Christian Ponder starting at that point in the season. Shut Peterson down, and the Vikes will sink with him. This will absolutely be another game the Falcons have to "take care of business" and win if they want to repeat last season's success.