John Sullivan said the Vikings are more concerned with themselves than trying to spoil anyone else's season. But entering Sunday's game, the Falcons were doing things just a little better than the Vikings in most of the league rankings.
The Vikings have come to grips with not being a playoff contender, but don't call them spoilers.
Center John Sullivan
, who has quietly put together a good bounce-back season, was asked directly if he thought the Vikings playing the role of spoiler against potential playoff teams like the Falcons, Saints, Lions and Bears in the final five weeks of the season would serve as a form of motivation. He said nothing could be further from the truth.
"We don't look at things from the perspective of another team," Sullivan said. "Our goal all along was to get to the playoffs. That's not going to happen, but we're going out every week to win and our focus is on what we can do to win games. We're not looking at what our opponents have going for them."
Sullivan said the Vikings are still hopeful of finishing the 2011 season strong and said that the Vikings are far from throwing in the towel.
"There's a lot of football left to be played," Sullivan said. "Right now, our goal is to finish 8-8. Nobody in this locker room has given up. We're going to come out fighting Sunday and try to get a ‘W.' We don't look at it any other way."
The Vikings have the 19th-ranked offense in the NFL (5th rushing, 29th passing) and the 19th-ranked defense (9th rushing, 28th passing).
The Falcons have the 12th-ranked offense (11th rushing, 10th passing) and the 15th-ranked defense (2nd rushing, 26th passing).
The Vikings offense is second in the league in average per rushing attempt at 5.2 yards.
Minnesota is averaging 324 yards a game on offense (181 passing, 143 rushing). Atlanta is averaging 369 yards a game (248 passing, 121 rushing).
The Vikings are allowing 360 yards a game (259 passing, 101 rushing). The Falcons are allowing 340 yards a game (254 passing, 86 rushing).
The Vikings and Falcons are 11th and 12th, respectively, in red zone offense. The Vikings have scored touchdowns on 54.5 percent of red zone drives (18 of 33). The Falcons sit at 54.1 percent (20 of 37).
Defensively in the red zone, the Falcons are third in the league, allowing touchdowns just 36.7 percent of the time (11 of 30). The Vikings are tied for 12th, allowing touchdowns on 18 of 38 drives (47.4 percent).
The Vikings have allowed 30 sacks on 331 pass plays – 30th in the league.
The Vikings defense is fourth in sacks per pass play with 31 sacks on 384 pass plays. Atlanta is 30th with 16 sacks on 383 pass plays.
The Falcons are eighth in the league in third-down conversions on offense, making good on 58 of 136 chances (42.6 percent). The Vikings are 10th at 40.3 percent (54 of 134). The league average is 38.5 percent.
Defensively, Atlanta is 24th on third downs, allowing opponents to convert on 56 of 132 opportunities (42.4 percent) . The Vikings are 29th, allowing 58 of 133 chances (43.6 percent).
The Vikings are tied for 15th in giveaway/takeaway ratio at even (13 giveaways and takeaways). The Falcons are tied for 12th at plus-1 (16 takeaways, 15 giveaways).
Matt Ryan has four 300-yard passing games. The Vikings have none.
The Falcons have allowed four 300-yard passers. The Vikings have allowed three.
Former Falcon Michael Jenkins has the only 100-yard receiving game for the Vikings. The current Falcons have six – three from rookie Julio Jones, two from Roddy White and one from Harry Douglas.
Defensively, Atlanta has allowed six 100-yard receivers. The Vikings have allowed five.
Michael Turner has four 100-yard rushing games. Injured Adrian Peterson has three.
The Falcons have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this year. The Vikings have allowed one.
Matt Ryan is 10th in passing yards (2,625), tied for ninth in TD passes (15) and 13th in passer rating (85.5).
Christian Ponder has a better passer rating in the fourth quarter (75.3) than Ryan (74.1).
Turner and Peterson entered the weekend in 5th and 6th place in rushing – Turner with 888 yards and Peterson with 872.
White is tied for seventh in receptions with 54. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is tied for 13th with 50. Percy Harvin is tied for 28th with 43 receptions.
White is 14th in receiving yards with 710. Harvin leads the Vikings with 459 yards – a total that would be fourth on the Falcons, behind White, Gonzalez and Jones.
Peterson is tied for the league lead in scoring among non-kickers with 72 points (12 touchdowns). Turner entered play tied for eighth place with 48 points (eight TDs).
Matt Bryant is 10th in scoring among kickers with 79 points. Ryan Longwell is tied for 23rd with 62 points.
Turner entered play this weekend ninth in total yards from scrimmage with 1,012 (888 rushing, 124 receiving). Peterson was 10th with 997 yards (872 rushing, 125 receiving).
Jared Allen is second in the league with 13.5 sacks. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys leads the league with 14, but he already played Thursday, so Allen can re-take the league lead with one sack today.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.