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EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are back home after a tough loss and have one game left before their bye week.
Minnesota endured a heartbreaking 27-26 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football — a game that fans will remember for a gutsy fourth-down call by Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and a pair of fourth-down conversions by Seattle that included the winning score.
The Vikings are now 1-4 and host the winless Falcons at noon (CT) Sunday.
Atlanta announced after its Week 5 loss that General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Dan Quinn were relieved of their duties. The Falcons named Raheem Morris as the interim head coach. Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Jeff Ulbrich has been promoted to defensive coordinator, and running backs coach Bernie Parmalee was promoted to replace Ben Kotwica as special teams coordinator. Will Harriger was shifted to coach running backs.
Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 6 matchup against the Falcons, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings.
Passing: Kirk Cousins had an up-and-down performance in Week 5, as he accounted for multiple touchdowns, but also multiple turnovers.
Cousins completed 27 of 39 passes (69.2 percent) for 249 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on Sunday. He compiled a 92.8 passer rating as he threw a season-high 39 attempts.
The quarterback's third-quarter turnovers — a fumble and an interception on back-to-back plays — helped Seattle take the lead after halftime. Cousins rallied his team for the lead but was unable to do so again with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The quarterback has now completed 89 of 139 passes (64.0 percent) for 1,132 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Cousins, whose passer rating is 87.6, has already surpassed his 2019 interception total.
The Falcons have a veteran quarterback on their side, too, in Matt Ryan, who was the No. 3 overall pick back in 2008.
Ryan completed 21 of 37 passes (56.8 percent) for 226 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in Week 5. He compiled a 63.6 passer rating, which was his lowest in five games in 2020.
Ryan has now completed 129 of 204 passes (63.2 percentage) for 1,472 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a passer rating of 90.2.
Rushing: The Vikings rushed for 200-plus yards in Week 5, but may now need to rely on their backup running back against the Falcons.
Dalvin Cook suffered a groin injury against the Seahawks, and although Zimmer said his MRI went well, we'll have to see this week what Cook's status is.
If he can't go, the Vikings will turn to Alexander Mattison, who had career highs in carries (20) and yards (112) against Seattle. Cook ran for 65 yards and a score on 17 tries, while Mike Boone added 19 yards on two carries.
Cook leads the league with 489 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through five games. Mattison has 44 attempts for 219 yards and a score.
The Vikings rank fourth in the NFL at 160.6 rushing yards per game, while the Falcons are 17th at 114.6 yards per game.
Todd Gurley II had 121 yards and a score on 14 carries Sunday in his best game of the season. Brian Hill added 39 yards on six attempts.
Gurley leads Atlanta with 79 carries for 375 yards and five scores. He is tied for second in the league in touchdown runs.
Hill has rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts.
Receiving: Adam Thielen keeps finding the end zone, as he had two more touchdown receptions Sunday. He had nine catches for 80 yards.
Irv Smith, Jr., was involved with four catches for 64 yards, and Cook had five receptions for 24 yards.
Mattison (24 yards) and Justin Jefferson (23 yards) each had three catches.
Thielen leads the Vikings with 29 catches for 364 yards and six scores. His receiving touchdowns total is tied for the league lead..
Jefferson has a team-high 371 receiving yards, with 19 receptions and one score.
Atlanta's Calvin Ridley had eight catches for 136 yards on Sunday, and Gurley adding four receptions for 29 yards.
Falcons star receiver Julio Jones did not play against the Panthers.
Ridley leads Atlanta in receptions (29), yards (485) and touchdown catches (four). Russell Gage has 21 catches for 224 yards and a score.
Jones (213 yards) and tight end Hayden Hurst (170 yards and two scores) each have 15 receptions.
Defense: The Vikings defense had perhaps its best performance of the 2020 season in Seattle, as Minnesota delivered a first-half shutout and didn't allow a single third-down conversion all game.
But the Vikings allowed a 94-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes as Seattle claimed the win. Minnesota allowed nearly one-third of 314 total yards on that final possession.
Eric Wilson had an interception and sack, while James Lynch, Yannick Ngakoue and Ifeadi Odenigbo also recorded sacks. Lynch's was the first of his career and occurred in his NFL debut. Ngakoue has a four-game streak with at least one sack in each outing.
Entering Tuesday, the Vikings rank 26th by allowing 404.0 yards per game. The Falcons are 31st at 446.0 yards per game allowed.
Atlanta allowed 437 yards to Carolina. The Panthers were 6-for-12 on third downs. Atlanta did not record a sack or takeaway.
Darqueze Dennard and Blidi Wreh-Wilson each have an interception for Atlanta. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has a team-high 2.5 of the Falcons 7.0 total sacks.
Special Teams: Dan Bailey made two field goals Sunday — both from 45-plus yards —and hit on both extra points. Bailey is now 6-for-8 on field goals and has made all 10 extra points in 2020.
Britton Colquitt averaged 48.0 yards per punt on just two kicks and had a long of 57. He is averaging 42.8 yards per punt on 15 kicks in 2020.
Returner K.J. Osborn was inactive with a hamstring injury. Chad Beebe had two punt returns for seven yards, and Ameer Abdullah had two kickoff returns for 37 yards.
Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo made three field goals, with a long of 54, plus his lone extra point Sunday. He is now 11-for-12 on field goals and 7-for-9 extra point attempts in 2020.
Sterling Hofrichter punted three times against the Panthers, averaging 46.3 yards with two punts landing inside the 20. He's averaging 41.8 yards per attempt.
Brandon Powell handles return duties for the Falcons. He is averaging 20.1 yards on eight kickoff returns and has returned five punts for 43 yards.
Not a lot of points
Zimmer has had success against Ryan and the Falcons offense in the past, as Atlanta has scored just 31 combined points in the past three meetings.
The Vikings limited the Falcons to just 10 points in 2015, nine points in 2017 and 12 points in the 2019 season opener.
Minnesota's defense has endured quite a bit of turnover since those teams, however, and will have to contend with an offense that features plenty of playmakers.
The Vikings are 4-0 against the Falcons under Zimmer.
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