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Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons

Vikings: They’re 9-2 and in complete control of the NFC North after their big divisional win on the road against the Detroit Lions. I knew their defense would stand out of course with a defensive minded guy as your head coach, but it’s the offense that’s really stepping it up and handling their business. They have a top five receiving tandem in my opinion in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but what really makes them better has been their ability to run the football and establish Latavius Murray more to add balance and when he gets it going, they are a very scary team. This is by far the best I’ve seen the Vikings look since 2009 and that team had Adrian Peterson and some guy named Brett who led them to a 13-3 record, a first-round bye in the playoffs and the NFC title game. If the playoffs were to start today, they’d be the two seed in the NFC behind the streaking Philadelphia Eagles and to a few people, this is the biggest threat to them in the conference because of the brand of football that they play which is physical, hard-hitting and they are able to control the clock and make your offense a one-dimensional unit if necessary, look what they did to the Los Angeles Rams with how they were able to clamp down and stop Todd Gurley. With a win on Sunday, they will win their tenth game of the season and to do so, they’ll have to be an Atlanta Falcons team who’s seemed to have found their rhythm as of late.

Falcons: Their win against the Seattle Seahawks a few weeks ago saved their season if you ask me and I say that because they haven’t looked as dominant as they did last year, but they have found their swagger and they couldn’t have located it at a better time. When multiple players are making plays for their offense, that’s when they are at their best when everyone gets a touch of the football and when that happens, it keeps defenses guessing as to who they should lock in on and try to take away. Early on in the season, they seemed to have shifted away from the running game and I felt the tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were one of the main reasons why they were able to remain consistent and eventually win the NFC and get to the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan wasn’t looking like the guy who had the best year of his career last year as he was forcing the football to Julio Jones and speaking of the star wide receiver, he hasn’t been as dominant as we’ve known him to be because defenses are double and triple-teaming him more often, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Julio had to show out and simply remind you who he really is as he had his best game of the season, 12 catches, 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns. When you look at the NFC as a whole, the Eagles, Saints, Vikings, and Panthers are the teams that really stand out, I think the Falcons are asking well what about us? After all, we came out the conference a season ago, so technically, you go through us. This is a big game on Sunday afternoon.

Vikings Player To Watch: Xavier Rhodes– This is your time! You got the contract, you’ve earned the reputation as being a corner that wants the top receiver and you’ve shut down a few of them so far in your young career. On Sunday, you get to line up across one of the best in Julio Jones. You were paid for the battles such as this one. It’s time to earn your stripes.

Falcons Player To Watch: Tevin Coleman– The Falcons are a much better team when they run the football and you saw that when they played Seattle a few Monday nights ago and the Buccaneers just this Sunday. With Freeman shelved with injuries, they’ve been leaning on Tevin and he can do it all. He can bounce the football outside, cut inside and he’s also a nice receiver out the backfield.

Final Analysis: It’s December football and the road to the playoffs begins now. The Falcons have inserted themselves back into the race for the NFC South with the Saints and Panthers. They still have a shot and they face the Saints twice and have one more battle with the Panthers this season. It’s key for the Falcons to get pressure on Case Keenum, he’s had games where he’s had all day to throw the football. For Minnesota, don’t change anything up. Continue to run Murray which will allow the passing game to open up down the field.

Prediction: Vikings 24 Falcons 21