Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings will win.” This week they host the high flying Atlanta Falcons as the Vikings hope to break a two-game losing streak.
For 5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried, click here.
5. Kicking to control Hester
Devin Hester has been a thorn in the side of the Vikings since he entered the league. In 15 career games against the Vikings Hester has scored nine touchdowns.
He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against Tampa Bay. That return gave him 20 career return touchdowns and made him the NFL's career leader as he surpassed Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer told reporters stopping Hester is a big challenge.
"Great task, great challenge ahead of us this weekend with the best returner that's ever played this game, in my opinion, a future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he hasn't skipped a beat. Watching him on tape, he still has the great vision, great explosion, great speed. He's a kickoff return and punt return unfortunately this year, again, like he's been in the past. We have a great challenge, and our work cut out for us."
But if there is a team set up to control Hester – it is the Vikings.
Last week, kicker Blair Walsh booted four touchbacks on kickoffs, eliminating any chance for a return. Punter Jeff Locke is also coming off of one of the better games of his career as he averaged 46 yards on four punts.
The Vikings punt coverage unit also held dangerous return man Brandin Cooks to a negative three yards on one return last week.
4. Hard to prepare for the unknown
"Sometimes the devil you know, is better than the devil you don't," so goes the old saying, which could be exactly what the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff is thinking as they get ready for the Vikings.
It might be easy for the Falcons to think with all the injuries and off-the-field issues surrounding the Vikings right now, it'll be pretty easy to head out of TCF Bank Stadium with a victory.
Not to mention the Vikings have been eerily quiet about any tweaks to the offense they might make with Bridgewater now running the show.
3. Defense! Defense! Defense!
Despite the 1-2 start to the season the Vikings defense has done some nice things.
Last week, in New Orleans they were a tough call away from a key sack on a third down that would have forced the Saints to punt while clinging to a slim 13-9 lead in the fourth quarter.
Defensive end Brian Robison says it's those mistakes, like the hit on Brees that caused the penalty, which have hurt the Vikings to this point.
That's not to say there already hasn't been a big improvement from last year. After giving up more than 30 points a game in 2013, so far through three games the Vikings are surrendering just 18.7 points per game.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan knows the Vikings defense will cause some problems.
"They are a very good front-seven," Ryan said. "They're physical at the point of attack in the front four. They have good linebackers; Chad Greenway is a guy who's played for a long time and is as good of a player as there is. We've got to bring it."
By the way, it was Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer's former team, Cincinnati, who handed the Falcons their only loss of the season.
2. Falcons haven't been able to get to the quarterback
It's just the kind of thing a rookie quarterback and a patchwork offensive line might want to see. So far the Atlanta Falcons have not been able to generate a lot of pressure.
Before last week's game against Tampa Bay ESPN's Ben Goessling and Vaughn McClure note the Falcons didn't have a single sack and just one hit on a quarterback through the first two games.
That stat changed against the lowly Buccaneers. After Atlanta built a big lead, they recorded three sacks. If they build a similar early lead against the Vikings, McClure predicts Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan may dial up a few more blitzes.
1. High expectations for Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater may be a rookie, but the Vikings have high expectations for their first round draft pick. Earlier this week, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he thinks Bridgewater has been ready to play since he got here.
In relief of Cassel last week, Bridgewater kept the Vikings close. He entered the game trailing 13-3 and led the Vikings to a pair of field goals to cut the Saints lead to four, but the Vikings weren't able to take the lead.
Zimmer's feelings were echoed by both Cassel and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson this week, who feel that Bridgewater will do a great job leading the team.
Too positive for you? Then here are “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried about the Atlanta Falcons.”