Here are 5 things to mull over before today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between the Vikings (7-3) and the Falcons (6-4) at the Georgia Dome.
1. HARRISON SMITH DECLARED OUT: Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison, the team’s leading tackler, has been downgraded and is now listed as out for the game against the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome because of a knee injury, according to the Associated Press. Smith leads the Vikings with 54 tackles this season. He was listed as questionable on
Friday, but the team said on Saturday that he will not play. Smith was injured last week against Green Bay. He missed the first two practices of the week, but was limited in practice on Friday. Rookie cornerback Trae Waynes (ankle) was also downgraded to out after being listed as questionable on Friday.
2. PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS: After the Packers loss to the Bears on Thursday, this game just became more important for the Vikings. They can take a one game lead in the NFC North with a win over the Falcons. The Falcons need a victory to get even with the Packers (7-4) and stay ahead of Tampa Bay (5-5) and Seattle (5-5) for a wildcard berth.
3. NO 1 RUN DEFENSE VS. NO. 1 RUNNER: The Falcons have the league’s top run defense, which is giving up 87.4 yards per game. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson leads the league in rush with 1,006 yards.
4. COLEMAN READY FOR PRIME TIME?: Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman, who opened the season as the starter, will attempt to take over the Devonta Freeman. Coleman rushed 17 times for 48 yards in relief of Jones last week against the Colts. The Vikings have a stout defensive front and are giving up 110.1 yards per game, tied for 17th in the league. .
5. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 27th regular season meeting between the Falcons and the Vikings. The Vikings hold a 16-10 lead. They pounded the Falcons, 41-28 in Minneapolis last season. The greatest victory in Falcons history was in the 1998 NFC championship win over the Vikings in overtime. The victory sent the Falcons their first and only Super Bowl.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Noah Coslov preview Falcons-Vikings by looking back at the way the Packers beat Minnesota and by getting into Matt Ryan’s struggles.
FALCONS GAMEDAY COVERAGE
Here’s how the Falcons reached the 6-4 mark after 10 games
Here’s a look back at the game stories, news and notes from the Falcons’ games this season after their disappointing 24-21 loss to the Colts on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS GAME COVERAGE — Colts 24, Falcons 21
SAN FRANCISCO GAME COVERAGE — 49ERS 17, Falcons 16
TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE — Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT
TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 10, Titans 7