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Early Look: Vikings at Falcons



EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings got a few extra days of rest after a Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions, and now continue a stretch of three straight road games.

Minnesota will play at Atlanta this week in a matchup of two strong NFC squads.

The Vikings are 9-2, have won seven straight games and hold a three-game lead in the NFC North after Thursday's 30-23 win over the Lions.

Atlanta has climbed back into the playoff picture with three straight wins, and the Falcons offense has averaged 31.7 points per game during that span.

The Falcons are 7-4 and in third place in the NFC South behind New Orleans and Carolina, who are both 8-3.

Here's an early look at Sunday's game:

Passing: Vikings quarterback Case Keenum completed 21 of 30 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions. He had a passer rating of 121.8 on Thursday.

Keenum is 7-2 as a starter this season. Keenum has thrown for 2,476 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers. He had a passer rating of 111.2. Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu also threw a 51-yard touchdown pass.

Ryan has completed 244 of 361 passes (67.6) for 2,884 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He has a passer rating of 97.2.

Rushing: Latavius Murray led the way on the ground Thursday, rushing for 84 yards and a score on 20 carries. Jerick McKinnon added 23 yards on 12 carries.

Murray leads the Vikings with 496 yards and five touchdowns this season. McKinnon has 390 yards and three touchdowns.

The Vikings rushed for 136 total yards Sunday, and rank seventh in the NFL with 124.5 rushing yards per game. 

Atlanta ran for 148 yards on 28 carries with two scores against the Buccaneers. Tevin Coleman had 97 yards and both touchdowns on 19 attempts.

Coleman leads Atlanta with 539 yards and has five touchdowns on the ground. Devonta Freeman, who has missed the Falcons past two games, has 515 rushing yards and also has five scores.

The Falcons rank 10th overall in rushing at 116.8 yards per game.

Receiving: Adam Thielen continued his career year by eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in the win against Detroit.

Thielen had eight catches for 89 yards on Thanksgiving, and now has 70 receptions for 1,005 yards and three scores on the season. Thielen ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph had four receptions for 63 yards and two scores, and Stefon Diggs had five catches for 66 yards. The Vikings had six different players catch at least one pass.

Diggs and Rudolph are tied for the team lead with five touchdown catches each.

Atlanta's Julio Jones had 12 receptions for 253 yards and two scores Sunday, as he recorded the highest receiving yardage total in a game this season. It was Jones' third-career performance of 250-plus receiving yards in a game, the most in NFL history.

Jones ranks seventh in the league with 66 catches, is second with 1,039 yards and also has three scores.

Sanu had eight receptions for 64 yards Sunday. He has 452 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Defense: The Vikings defense came up big when needed as Minnesota salvaged a split in the season series against Detroit, which had 289 yards of offense.

Everson Griffen had 2.0 sacks and is now tied for the league lead with 12 sacks. Danielle Hunter recorded his sixth sack of the season and has had a sack in three straight games.

Xavier Rhodes helped seal the Vikings win with a late-fourth quarter interception. He has two picks this season, which is tied for second on the team.

Minnesota ranks fifth in the NFL in both yards allowed per game (290.4) and points allowed per game (17.7).

Atlanta allowed 373 yards of offense to Tampa Bay as the Falcons earned a 34-20 victory. Takkarist McKinley had a sack for Atlanta.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn leads the Falcons with 8.0 sacks, and cornerback Desmond Trufant has two of the team's three interceptions.

The Falcons rank 10th in the NFL in yards allowed per game (321.8) and are 13th in points allowed per game (20.9).

Special Teams: Vikings kicker Kai Forbath hit one of his two field goal tries Thursday and made three of his four his extra point attempts. Forbath is 24 of 28 on field goals this season.

Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 42.8 yards on four punts and landed two of them inside the 20-yard line.

Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant made both of his field goals and all four of his extra point tries Sunday. Bryant is 21 of 24 on field goals this season. 

Falcons punter Matthew Bosher averages 44.2 yards per punt.

Over The Years

The Vikings are 18-11 all-time against Atlanta, a series that includes a pair of playoff meetings.

Minnesota has won two in a row and three of the past five matchups with the Falcons. 

The Vikings longest win streak against Atlanta is four games, a mark that has happened twice. The Falcons won two straight against Minnesota in the first two meetings between the teams.

The Vikings won a  playoff game against the Falcons after the 1982 season and fell to Atlanta in the NFC Championship after the 1998 season.

Last meeting: Vikings 20, Falcons 10, Nov. 29, 2015, in Atlanta

The Vikings improved to 8-3 on the way to an eventual NFC North crown by getting the lead and never trailing on the road against the Falcons.

Adrian Peterson ran for a 1-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to open the scoring.

Atlanta got on the board with a field goal before the Vikings countered with two field goals. Peterson found the end zone again in the fourth quarter to put Minnesota up 20-3.

Ryan threw a late touchdown pass, but it was a solid day for the Vikings defense, which held Atlanta to its second-lowest points total of the season.

Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr made the defensive play of the game when he chased down Coleman after a 46-yard run and forced a fumble that the Vikings recovered.

Barr had two forced fumbles and a sack on the day in the win.

Peterson ran for 158 yards and two scores, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 174 yards.

Ryan threw for 230 yards but was picked off by cornerbacks Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn. Griffen also had a sack on the day.

The Vikings eventually finished 11-5 and won the division title.

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