A pair of heavy hitters on Matt Ryan's blindside will square off on Sunday in Atlanta. The battle that is brewing between Vikings DE Everson Griffen and Falcons LT Jake Matthews is the subject of this week's Ticketmaster Hot Matchup.
There isn't much to complain about when it comes to the Vikings defense, but the one area that could take off at any time is the pass rush. The Vikings have done a solid job of pressuring the QB and forcing teams into the quick game, but Griffen and Co. have just 23 sacks on the season. At this stage in 2014, the Vikings had 30 sacks. When the pass rush does take off and generate more sacks, expect Griffen to be the impetus. He had a career-high 12.0 last season and currently leads the team with 6.5.
In order for the Vikings and Griffen to jump start their pass rush this weekend, they'll have to overcome a talented player on the Atlanta offensive line. The 6-5, 305-pound Matthews is athletic and strong. The No. 6 overall pick in 2014, Matthews has played and started in 25 games. Football is in his blood, too, as he's the fourth member of his family to be selected in the 1st round of the draft and his father, Bruce, was a 14-time Pro Bowler. Also, Matthews' cousin is Green Bay Packers LB Clay Mathews.
Matthews' performance this season has been important for a Falcons offense that has allowed only 18 sacks, ninth-fewest in the NFL (League average is 23). Since giving up 5 to New Orleans in Week 6, the Falcons have not allowed more than 2 in any game, a big factor in Ryan completing 65.5% of his passes in the past 4 games.
Griffen vs. Matthews is just one hot matchup on the Vikings schedule this season. Another will take place next week when the Vikings welcome the Seattle Seahawks to town for what will be a huge game in the development of the NFC playoff picture. To purchase Vikings single-game tickets, visit the official NFL Ticket Exchange.