Finally, football is back!
In Week One, the Minnesota Vikings welcome the Atlanta Falcons to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN for a 1:00 PM EST showdown.
The Falcons have no significant injuries reported for this game. For the Vikings, Stefon Diggs is currently listed as questionable with a hamstring issue. As of now, he is being reported as likely to play. If he cannot go that would be a huge blow to this Vikings offense.
Vegas has the Vikings as a four-point home favorite with the game total sitting at 47. There are only five games in the first week with a Vegas total higher than this one. We should be expecting plenty of offensive fireworks in this matchup.
Atlanta had one of the highest performing offenses in the league last season. It was not a very balanced offense however as they ranked seventh in Offensive Pass DVOA and 22nd in Offensive Rush DVOA (a stat that measures defense while taking into consideration strength of schedule). Some of this has to do with the elite pass game weapons the Falcons have in Quarterback Matt Ryan, and Wide Receivers Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu. We can also attribute some of this imbalance to Running Back injuries. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (no longer with the team) spent stints on the sidelines with injury. With everyone healthy, it should be expected that Atlanta will have a much more balanced attack on offense.
Let’s face it, the Vikings offense was quite a big disappointment last season. They ranked 18th in overall Offensive DVOA (16th Offensive Pass DVOA, 28th Offensive Rush DVOA). One glance at those stats and it is no surprise that the coaching staff has pronounced a return to a heavy dose of the run game. Halfway through the 2018 season the Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo was fired as he and head coach Mike Zimmer did not see eye to eye on how the offense should be run. This commitment to the run bodes well for Running Back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings also have one of the best Wide Receiver tandems in football with Adam Thielen and Diggs. Even with a much healthier Falcons defense, the Vikings should still be able to run their offense as they see fit and with success.
In 2018 Atlanta’s defense ranked 31st in DVOA. The Falcons D was 29th in Defensive Pass DVOA and 30th in Defensive Rush DVOA. By all accounts, the Vikings should just have their way with this team. Not so fast, the Falcons defense was decimated with injuries throughout 2018 which absolutely had a bearing on the stats throughout the year. Although the Falcons defense is healthy to start the year it doesn’t mean the Vikings won’t be productive. In 2017 Atlanta ranked 22nd in overall Defensive DVOA, only slightly better than 2018.
Minnesota’s 2018 defense was fourth in Defensive DVOA (fifth in Def Pass DVOA and 11th in Def Rush DVOA). In basic terms, the Vikings had a really good defense which should continue into this season. The challenge comes with the Falcons offense as they were ranked 8th in Offensive DVOA last season, strength meets strength.
When it is all said and done the Vikings defense should prove to be too tough for the Falcons to overcome. The Vikings offense should be able to get out to an early lead and control the pace of this game. On defense Minnesota will need to concede Julio Jones his contributions but as long as they can mitigate the involvement of Atlanta’s other weapons the game should go as planned.
I personally think this game goes above the Vegas expectations and the Vikings come out victorious 28-24. It should be an exciting game to start the season.