Get the vitals for the Vikings-Falcons game Sunday, including the series history, key to the game and fast facts.
(9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints
(7-7) at Detroit Lions
(2-11-1) at Cleveland Browns
San Diego Chargers
(6-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(11-3) at Tennessee Titans
San Francisco 49ers
(5-9) at St. Louis Rams
(8-6) at New England Patriots
(6-8) at Denver Broncos
New York Jets
(9-5) at Seattle Seahawks
(7-7) at Oakland Raiders
(8-5-1) at Washington Redskins
(9-5) at Minnesota Vikings
(11-3) at New York Giants
Green Bay Packers
(5-9) at Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: FOX (Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin)
24th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead the series, 15-8, and have split with the Falcons in the playoffs. Included was a heart-breaking 30-27 overtime loss in the 1998 NFC title game that ended the Vikings' dreams of a Super Bowl season. Minnesota went 15-1 in the regular season and was a heavy favorite to beat the Falcons.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Vikings might be ranked No. 1 in run defense (71.2 yards per game), but they're preparing to take on the league's top running attack (148.7) minus run-stuffing DT Pat Williams
. Veteran Fred Evans
will start in his place, but Evans has been primarily used in passing situations this season. Minnesota knows it will see plenty of RB Michael Turner
as the Falcons attempt to set rookie QB Matt Ryan
up for success in a high-pressure game in a very load road venue.
QB Tarvaris Jackson
is expected to get his second consecutive start, and is playing with far more poise than when he was benched in Week 3. Of course, it helps when RB Adrian Peterson
is forcing eight-man fronts and creating short passing situations. Atlanta gives up 120.2 rushing yards per game, so the Vikings will give Peterson and Chester Taylor
an opportunity to lead the way and hopefully set up Jackson to work off play-action.
The Vikings win the NFC North with a win or a loss by Chicago.
Atlanta clinches a playoff spot with a win and losses by Tampa Bay and Philadelphia or Dallas.
Peterson's 1,581 rushing yards tops Robert Smith's previous franchise record of 1,521 in 2000.
The Vikings' loss in that title game included a missed 38-yard field goal by Gary Anderson in the fourth quarter that would have clinched the victory and sent the Vikings to the Super Bowl. Anderson, who became the first kicker in NFL history not to have a miss the entire regular season (39 straight), missed wide left with the Vikings holding a 27-20 lead. The Falcons then scored with less than a minute to play and won in overtime on a 38-yard field goal by Morten Andersen.
The Vikings have won seven of the past 10 games in this series, including the 2006 season opener, when they cruised to a 24-3 victory at the Metrodome. Minnesota is 10-3 against the Falcons at the Metrodome.
RB Adrian Peterson made his NFL debut in that game, rushing for 103 yards on 19 carries and taking a pass 60 yards for his first career touchdown. That was the only touchdown pass Peterson caught all season. He rushed for 12 touchdowns.
DE Jared Allen recorded his first career multi-sack game against the Falcons, getting to former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick twice as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 24, 2006.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, WR Bernard Berrian became only the third player in NFL history to score on a pass and a punt return in the first quarter of the same game when he accomplished the feat last Sunday in Arizona. Pete Pihos of the Eagles (1947) and J.T. Smith of the Chiefs (1980) also did it.
The Vikings have scored 229 points over the past eight games, an average of 28.6 points per game. That average ranks third in the NFL behind Carolina (29.5) and New England (29.0).
The Vikings are looking to clinch their first division title since the NFC Central was realigned in 2002, with Tampa Bay moving out. The Vikings last won a division title in 2000, when they advanced to the NFC title game before being drubbed 41-0 by the New York Giants.
The Vikings' final three games come against teams that dealt them hard-to-swallow defeats. The Cardinals knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs in 2003 with a last-second victory in the regular-season finale. The Falcons beat the Vikings in the 1998 NFC title game in overtime, and the Giants embarrassed Minnesota in the 2000 NFC title matchup.