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Lunchbreak: ESPN Predicts Big Scores in Vikings-Falcons

It remains to be seen if Vikings running back Dalvin Cook plays Sunday against the Falcons after suffering a groin injury in Week 5.

If the league's leading rusher (489 yards and seven TDs) does not play, second-year running back Alexander Mattison would be in line to make the first start of his career.

ESPN's Courtney Cronin and Mike Triplett recently broke down the Week 6 matchup between the Vikings and Falcons, with Triplett noting that he expects Mattison to have a big game if Cook does not play.

Triplett wrote:

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will throw three touchdown passes, tripling his total from the past three weeks combined. But it won't be enough, as Vikings running back Alexander Mattison does his best Dalvin Cook impersonation with more than 100 rushing yards and two scores of his own.

Cronin, who covers the Vikings, pondered how the Falcons will respond after relieving General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Dan Quinn of their duties after Week 5.

She wrote:

What does an 0-5 team look like with a new coaching staff but a season likely past the point of being salvaged? Do the Falcons uncover a new identity or form of motivation to rattle off a series of wins under interim coach Raheem Morris? The scheme might not change, but what kind of stops does Atlanta pull out against a Vikings team scratching to keep its playoff hopes alive?

They also noted that Minnesota's defense needs to keep an eye on Atlanta wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has an NFL-high four 100-yard receiving games this season.

Cronin and Triplett both picked the Vikings to win, although both think the game will be close in the fourth quarter.

Cronin predicted a 30-27 Minnesota win, while Triplett has the home team getting a 33-27 win.

Either of those scores would be a significant departure from 2017 when the teams met in Atlanta. Minnesota won that affair 14-9, but both defenses have struggled and scoring is up across the NFL. Through five weeks, 453 touchdowns have been scored, including 436 on offense, setting records in both categories.

Graff assesses Vikings ahead of trade deadline

The 2020 NFL trade deadline is a little over two weeks away, but Chad Graff of The Athletic doesn’t give the Vikings a high chance of making any moves.

Graff wrote he expects Minnesota to be quiet on November 3:

The Vikings have the least salary cap space in the NFL and are stuck somewhere between buyers and sellers. It would be hard for them to make a move even if they wanted, and I don't get the sense that they want to.

Graff noted that the Vikings could use help at guard, as well as at tackle, linebacker and safety on the defensive side of the ball.

But the Vikings could get reinforcements on the roster in the form of one of their own players returning from Injured Reserve.

Graff wrote that guard Pat Elflein, who started in Week 1 but has been on IR since, could give the interior of Minnesota's offensive line a boost.

Graff wrote of Elflein:

They wanted to give the 2017 third-round pick ample opportunity at right guard this season. But Elflein [got] injured … and his replacement, Dru Samia, has struggled mightily. Elflein is eligible to be activated from Injured Reserve, and he was spotted at practice Wednesday. If he's getting closer to playing, the Vikings may not think they need help at guard for the remainder of this season.

All trades must be completed by 3 p.m. (CT) on Nov. 3.