EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In this Thanksgiving weekend's matchup with the Falcons, the Vikings will visit a team that's given footballs to other teams frequently of late.
Atlanta has 13 giveaways in its past five games and has gone 1-4 in that stretch after starting the season 5-0 under first-year head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons were plus-five in turnover ratio during their five-game win streak, with 10 takeaways against five giveaways.
Since then, however, a team that ranks number one in rush defense and 10th overall in yards allowed, fourth in yards gained and fifth in passing yards, has been grounded by a minus-6 turnover ratio.
"I think it comes down to us taking care of the ball the way we're capable of," said quarterback Matt Ryan, who has thrown 10 interceptions this season. "Obviously, the number one statistic in this league is turnover differential, and being in the plus in that category. We haven't been able to do that the last four or five weeks, and that's something that I think we need to be better at. We've moved the ball really well and done a lot of good things on offense, but we've turned it over too much and that's something we have to correct."
The Falcons (6-4) have lost eight of the 15 fumbles they've committed.
Turnovers haven't been as frequent for either team in Vikings (7-3) games, although Minnesota did lose a fumble in the fourth quarter Sunday against Green Bay to derail a comeback attempt.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said pressure on the quarterback can force interceptions and fumbles are best when caused when the Vikings play within the defense and a second defender goes after the ball because a teammate already has the opponent in check.
The Vikings have 11 takeaways and 10 giveaways this season for a plus-1 margin that is tied for 12th in the NFL.
"It's probably as much my fault as anything [the defense hasn't forced more turnovers]," Zimmer said. "We stress fundamentals and those things and I wouldn't say we're a gambling football team. But I think throughout my career we've been about middle of the pack most of the time.
"We've never been real, real great, but they tend to come in – you get a couple here in this game, you miss a couple games, then you get two or three more," Zimmer continued. "It's kind of like the Oakland game. We get a couple, then we don't get anything the next week. We've just got to keep working on it, keep stressing it."
The Vikings defense ranks third in points allowed per game, ninth in total yards allowed, sixth in passing yards allowed and is tied for 17th in rush yards allowed.
"You're always trying to get takeaways while playing within the scope of the defense," safety Andrew Sendejo said. "You're not going to do anything outside of what you're coached to do. Just do your job and when the plays come, make them."
Injury reports: For the Vikings: Harrison Smith (knee) and Everson Griffen (hip/shoulder) did not participate for a second straight day. Robert Blanton (ankle), Sharrif Floyd (ankle) and Matt Kalil (toe) were upgraded to full participants. Eric Kendricks (ribs), Anthony Barr (hand) and Teddy Bridgewater (left shoulder) fully participated for a second straight day. Trae Waynes (ankle) was added Thursday and was limited.
For the Falcons: RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) and WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) did not participate for a second straight day. K Matt Bryant (right quad) did not participate Thursday after being limited Wednesday. CB Robert Alford (groin), G Andy Levitre (knee) and S Robenson Therezie (hamstring) were limited a second straight day.