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Game Preview: Falcons at Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings will open their 59th season and the NFL's 100th by hosting the Atlanta Falcons at noon (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This will be the fifth time that the Vikings and Falcons — franchises that were added during separate expansions in the 1960s — have opened a season. Minnesota is 4-0 in such games so far and is 19-11 overall against Atlanta (includes a split of two postseason games).

Minnesota is opening a season at home for the third consecutive year and has a three-game win streak against the Falcons that dates to Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's first season at the helm. Zimmer's squad claimed a 41-28 victory in Week 4 for his first career victory in front of the home crowd.

The Vikings have since won twice in Atlanta (20-10 in 2015 and 14-9 in 2017). Zimmer is 47-32-1 in five seasons, having recorded the sixth-most wins of any head coach since 2014.

Ten of 11 defensive starters from 2018 have returned to the Vikings lineup. The offense, however, has experienced an overhaul on the offensive line and a change in direction under first-year Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski.


TV: FOX 9 KMSP in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Play-by-Play: Thom Brennaman

Analyst: Chris Spielman

Sideline Reporter: Shannon Spake


RADIO: KFAN 100.3-FM/KTLK 1130-AM in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman & Ben Leber

Radio Pre-game Show: Mike Mussman | 10 a.m. (CT)

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the five-state Vikings Radio Network.


SiriusXM: ATL SIRI 103 or Streaming 801; MIN SIRI 83 or Streaming 819


Since 2014, the Vikings are 4-1 on Kickoff Weekend and lead the NFL with four defensive touchdowns:


Harrison Smith is slated to appear in his 100th career game, becoming the sixth safety in Vikings history to do so. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Smith is one of two defenders (Thomas Davis) to compile at least two sacks and two interceptions in Week 1 games.

Since 2016, the Vikings defense has forced seven turnovers during Kickoff Weekend, which is tied for the most in the NFL with the Rams, Ravens, Browns and Jets.

Adam Thielen has totaled 15 receptions for 259 yards in his past two Kickoff Weekend games. Only Tyreek Hill (14 receptions for 302 yards) and Antonio Brown (20 receptions for 275 yards) have more yards.

Dalvin Cook's 127 rushing yards in his NFL debut in 2017 ranks as the third-most during a Kickoff Weekend since 2017, trailing only Kareem Hunt (148) and James Connor (135).


Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Falcons in 2007.

Falcons tight ends coach Mike Mularkey began his NFL career with the Vikings, playing tight end for Minnesota from 1983-88.

Falcons offensive assistant Ben Steele played tight end for Minnesota in the 2003 and 2004 preseasons.


Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly is from Snellville, Georgia.

Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell starred at Minnesota from 2013-15 and teamed with Vikings defensive quality control coach Nick Rallis during that span.


Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards coached with Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn at Miami in 2005.

Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray spent time on the Seahawks staff with Quinn and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich in 2010.

Minnesota assistant head coach and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak led the 2015-16 Broncos with current Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp holding the same role in Denver during that span.

Minnesota wide receivers coach Drew Petzing served as a defensive graduate assistant at Boston College while Falcons running backs coach Dave Brock tutored the tight ends in 2011.


Vikings QB Sean Mannion teamed with Falcons G Jamon Brown with the Rams (2015-18).

Vikings Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Rick Dennison coached Vikings G Dakota Dozier and Falcons G James Carpenter at the Jets in 2018.


Vikings CB Mackensie Alexander (2013-14) and S Jayron Kearse (2013-14) at Clemson with Atlanta's OLB Vic Beasley, Jr., (2013) and DT Grady Jarrett (2013-14)

Minnesota T Riley Reiff and Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn at Iowa (2008-10)

Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes and Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman at Florida State (2011-12)

Minnesota DE's Danielle Hunter (2012-14) and Tashawn Bower (2013-16) at LSU with Falcons WR Russell Gage (2014-17), LB Deion Jones (2012-15) and LB Duke Riley (2013-16)

Vikings S Marcus Epps and Atlanta RB Brian Hill at Wyoming (2014-16)

Vikings quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak served as an offensive quality control coach at Texas A&M while Falcons T Jake Matthews played for the Aggies from 2010-11.

Minnesota T Brian O'Neill with Atlanta RB Qadree Ollison at Pittsburgh (2014-17)

Minnesota QB Sean Mannion and Falcons FB Ricky Ortiz at Oregon State (2012-14)

Vikings TE Irv Smith, Jr., and Atlanta WR Calvin Ridley at Alabama (2016-17)

Vikings DT Jalyn Holmes and Falcons DB Kendall Sheffield at Ohio State (2017)

Minnesota T Rashod Hill and Atlanta RB Ito Smith at Southern Miss (2014)

Vikings P Britton Colquitt and Falcons TE Luke Stocker at Tennessee from (2007-08)

Minnesota DT Shamar Stephen and Atlanta CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson at Connecticut (2009-12)

Vikings LB Eric Kendricks and Falcons DE Takkarist McKinley at UCLA (2014)



Kyle Rudolph: 2 games, 11 receptions, 89 yards, TD

Josh Doctson: 1 game, 3 receptions, 31 yards, TD


Anthony Barr: 3 games, 24 tackles (17 solo), 2.0 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 FF, 1 PBU

Everson Griffen: 4 games, 8 tackles (5 solo), 2.0 sacks, 2 TFL

Harrison Smith: 2 games, 15 tackles (10 solo), 1 INT, 1 PBU


Anthony Barr recorded nine tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup in Atlanta on Nov. 29, 2015. Barr also recorded the second sack of his career in just his fourth pro game on Sept. 28, 2014.

Harrison Smith recorded nine tackles and a game-clinching interception on Sept. 28, 2014.


1. The Vikings are 4-0 in regular-season openers against the Falcons:

W, 47-7 on Sept. 14, 1968 at Metropolitan Stadium

W, 24-23 on Sept. 7, 1980 at Metropolitan Stadium

W, 17-14 on Sept. 12, 1999 at the Georgia Dome

W, 24-3 on Sept. 9, 2007 at the Metrodome

2. This will be the third time that the franchises have met on Sept. 8 (Vikings wins in 1991 and 1996) but first time that such a meeting will occur on Kickoff Weekend.

3. On Dec. 20, 1970, the Purple People Eaters sacked Falcons QB Randy Johnson nine times, setting a team record that was just topped last season with 10 sacks of Detroit's Matthew Stafford (Nov. 4, 2018).

Longest Vikings winning streak in series: 4 games (Dec. 7, 1974 through Sept. 7, 1980 and Nov. 22, 1987-Sept. 8, 1996)

Longest Vikings losing streak in series: 2 games (Dec. 4, 1966 through Oct. 29, 1967 and Dec. 21, 2008-Nov. 27, 2011)