Both the Vikings and Falcons missed last year's postseason despite high expectations. Both teams expect to make a return to the postseason in 2019.
Both the Vikings and Falcons are guided by defensive-minded head coaches, both put an emphasis on rebuilding their offensive line, both have accurate, veteran quarterbacks, both have star running backs from Florida State, both have veteran kickers following an offseason of experimentation.
Suffice it to say, there are a lot of parallels between these two teams. They will kick off the 2019 season together at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. And that's where the parallels will end. One team will start the season ideally, with a win and momentum heading into a big Week 2 game – Atlanta hosts Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football, the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field for a contest against the Packers). The other team will be behind the eight ball with a 0-1 mark and a similarly important NFC game quickly upcoming.
It's here. The regular season is upon us. Let the games begin.
A factor to watch on Sunday when the Vikings offense is on the field is yards after the catch. In last year's season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, who run a similar defensive scheme to the Falcons, the Vikings offense was able to move the ball down the field when it capitalized on yards after the catch. Dalvin Cook, was the second-most targeted and productive receiver on the day, amassed 54 of his 55 receiving yards after he caught the ball, indicating his success was the product of quarterback Kirk Cousins taking what the defense gave him via check downs and letting his playmakers do the work. Also effective with YAC in that game was Adam Thielen, who totaled 48 yards (47%) after the catch.
Receiver Stefon Diggs did not practice on Wednesday and was a limited participant on both Thursday and Friday. There is optimism that Diggs will be able to play on Sunday because he's listed as questionable on the injury report. Also listed as questionable on the report is tight end Tyler Conklin. All others listed on the Vikings injury report, with the exception of cornerback Mike Hughes (out – knee), are expected to play this week.
While Gary Kubiak will be assisting Kevin Stefanski from the booth, do you think he will be able to assist Mike Zimmer in giving insights from a defensive perspective as to what opposing offenses are doing during games? Skol Vikings!
Yes, I'm sure Kubiak can provide that sort of in-game influence to both Zimmer and Stefanski. Perhaps more significantly for Zimmer, though, is that Kubiak can be a resource during the week in the building. From motivational tactics to handling player discipline to altering travel itineraries, coaches obsess over details and are always looking for ways to help their team perform better. As a Super Bowl-winning head coach, Kubiak has a great encyclopedia of experiences, as does Zimmer, and together they can tackle about any kind of problem issue or opportunity that could arise.
"I saw a little bit of it. Wish they both would have lost." – Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
That was coach Zimmer's response when asked if he watched Thursday night's game between the Packers and Bears. Green Bay won the contest 10-3 in a defensive slugfest at Soldier Field. The Vikings will have a chance to put on a loss on both team's records this month, with a Week 2 date at Lambeau Field and a Week 4 contest at Soldier Field. Regardless of Sunday's outcome versus Atlanta, the Vikings will be in first place in the NFC North if they defeat Green Bay next Sunday.
Stat of the Week – 4-1
The Vikings are 4-1 in Week 1 games under head coach Mike Zimmer and his defenses have scored four touchdowns in those contests, the most in the NFL on Kickoff Weekend since 2014.
National Television: FOX
Play-by-play: Thom Brennaman
Analyst: Chris Spielman
Sideline: Shannon Spake
Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber
Pre-game show: Mike Mussman – 10:00 a.m. CT