Adrian Peterson is on track to earn the first NFL rushing title in Vikings history, but if he doesn't win it, the award could go to the Falcons' Michael Turner. Two of the best backs are in one important game Sunday.
Over the years, both the Vikings and Falcons have had some excellent running backs, but this year either Adrian Peterson
or Michael Turner
is going to win the rushing title. Whichever back does, it will be the first in franchise history for either team.
The Vikings have been in the NFL for 47 years and never had a rushing title for one of their backs. The Falcons have been in the league 42 years and have never had a rushing champion.
It would appear something is going to give this year and one of the two teams will be rewarded with a rushing title – and perhaps an MVP award as well.
VIKINGS-FALCONS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 16th-rated offense (third rushing, 26th passing) and the eighth-ranked defense (first rushing, 22nd passing). Atlanta has the fifth-rated offense (first rushing, 13th passing) and the 23rd-ranked defense (22nd rushing, 23rd passing).
Atlanta hasn't lost back-to-back games all season, but has never won more than two straight either.
Atlanta has outscored opponents 104-38 in the first quarter of games this year, yet has been outscored 163-133 in the second half of games.
The Vikings have outscored opponents 104-55 in the second quarter of games this year.
Jason Elam has made 27 of 29 field goal attempts this year.
Atlanta has allowed just 14 sacks, which is 1.5 fewer than John Abraham has by himself. Vikings QBs have been sacked 41 times.
Four different Falcons receivers have catches of 62 yards or more.
The Vikings have allowed more touchdowns on returns (10) than they have rushing TDs (nine).
While the Vikings and Falcons both have highly-rated rushing games, in average per rushing attempt, the Vikings are eighth in the league and Atlanta is 15th.
The Falcons have done a much better job of ball control. Matt Ryan has helped the Falcons be eighth in the league in interceptions per pass attempt. The Vikings are 32nd in that category.
The same goes for sacks. Ryan has been sacked just 14 times, giving him a sack percentage per pass attempt that ranks fifth in the league. The Vikings are 27th.
Atlanta is fourth in the league in third-down efficiency on offense; the Vikings are 20th.
Atlanta's punt coverage unit is markedly better than the Vikings. Minnesota is fourth in the league in gross punt average, but 29th in net punt average. Atlanta is 30th in gross punt average, but 17th in net punt average thanks to their coverage teams.
The Vikings not only have the No. 1 rush defense, but they are No. 2 in average per rush attempt allowed. The Falcons are 29th.
The Vikings are 32nd in punt return average allowed. Atlanta is No. 1.
The Vikings are minus-1 in takeaway/giveaway ratio with 25 takeaways and 26 giveaways, which ties for 17th in the league. Atlanta is 23rd at minus-4 with 14 takeaways and 18 giveaways.
The Vikings have 13 defensive fumble recoveries. Only three teams have more. Atlanta has just four fumble recoveries – tied for least in the league.
Only Denver (13) has fewer takeaways than Atlanta.
The Vikings are averaging 329 yards of offense per game – 182 passing, 147 rushing. Atlanta is averaging 367 yards a game – 218 passing, 149 rushing.
Defensively, the Vikings are allowing 293 yards a game – 222 passing, 71 rushing. Atlanta is allowing 344 yards a game – 138 rushing, 206 passing.
The Vikings are the only team that has yet to allow 1,000 yards rushing against them. They have allowed 997 yards.
The Falcons offense is 17th in the red zone, scoring 25 touchdowns in 49 possessions (51 percent TD rate). The Vikings are 27th with 40 possessions and 18 TDs (45 percent).
Defensively, the Vikings are fourth in the league in the red zone, allowing 17 touchdowns on 41 possessions (41.5 percent). Atlanta has allowed 23 TDs on 44 possessions (52.3 percent), which ranks 15th in the league.
The Vikings lead the league in worst scoring percentage (70.7 percent) against them in the red zone. Simply translated, on three of every 10 trips to the red zone, Vikings' opponents have come up empty-handed.
Atlanta's offense has converted more third down plays (88) than any team in the league.
The Vikings defense is second in the league in third downs allowed to be converted (59). Entering play this week, only Baltimore (57) had allowed fewer conversions.
Matt Ryan has two 300-yard passing games. The Vikings haven't had one in the Brad Childress era. Atlanta has allowed two 300-yard passers this year, while the Vikings have allowed three.
Roddy White has posted seven 100-yard receiving games, as opposed to four for Bernard Berrian. The Falcons have allowed five 100-yard receivers, compared to four for the Vikings.
Adrian Peterson has nine 100-yard rushing games, while Michael Turner has seven. The Vikings defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher, while Atlanta has allowed five.
White is eighth in the league with 82 receptions. Bobby Wade is tied for 59th with 42 catches.
White is second in the league with 1,310 receiving yards. Berrian leads the Vikings with 865 yards – 22nd in the league.
White leads the NFL with 28 third-down receptions.
Only DeAngelo Williams (16) has more touchdowns than Turner's 15.
Jason Elam is sixth in scoring among kickers with 116 points. Ryan Longwell is eighth with 114 points.
Peterson leads the league in total yards from scrimmage with 1,690. Turner is fourth with 1,462.
John Abraham is third in the league with 15.5 sacks. Jared Allen is fifth with 14.5 sacks.