Coming off of an electric win against their rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers, things were looking up for the Atlanta Falcons. Star receiver Julio Jones finally had the big game fans had been waiting for, and the team looked great in their 34-20 win. Atlanta was sitting at 7-4 coming into their Week 13 matchup against the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings. In a close battle, the Vikings took the win in Atlanta 14-9, outplaying last year’s NFC Champions. Below are some takeaways from the Falcons Week 13 loss to the Vikings.
Week 13 Atlanta Falcons Takeaways
Julio Jones Gets Shut Down
Coming off of a monster performance with 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Buccaneers, things seem to be trending in the right direction for Julio Jones. He had struggled to find the end zone all season, but was now starting to look like the dominant play maker who was capable of carrying the Falcons to victories throughout his career.
While many expected Jones to follow his Week 12 performance up with another dominant outing, he struggled to get open against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings secondary. Rhodes and the Vikings defense allowed Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones Jr. to go off on Thanksgiving for 109 yards and two touchdowns, but they kept Jones to a mere 24 yards on two catches on Sunday. While Jones got locked down this game, many can expect him to bounce back next week against the New Orleans Saints in a game that could be key in deciding NFC playoff seeding.
Repeating as Division Champions is Unlikely
After Sunday’s loss, the Atlanta Falcons have now slipped to 7-5. While last year they won the NFC South with a 11-5 record, with a tough slate of NFC South games coming up, it is unlikely they win out to finish at 11-5 again. If they beat the Saints twice and both the Carolina Panthers and Buccaneers, they could find themselves atop the NFC South for the second consecutive season. However, with both the Saints and Panthers playing dominant football right now, it will be tough for Atlanta to overcome them both for the division crown. At this point, Falcons fans might have to settle for a wild card spot in this year’s tough NFC South.
However, missing the playoffs is a legitimate reality for the Falcons if they continue to play like they did on Sunday. Their offense looked weak against the dominant Vikings defense, and with teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Lions, and Green Bay Packers all in the wild card hunt, the Falcons need to win at least half of their final four games.
Shutting Down Top Receivers
The Minnesota Vikings have one of the best receiver duos in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Yet, Desmond Trufant and the Atlanta secondary gave them little to work with, as the duo were held to a combined six catches for 83 yards. While quarterback Case Keenum completed 25 of his 30 pass attempts, this is a great sign for the Falcons.
The defense managed to stop the big plays on which Thielen and Diggs thrive. Stopping the big plays should be a focus for the Falcons in their upcoming game against the Saints. If they can manage to shut down players like Michael Thomas as well as they shut down Thielen and Diggs, the Falcons will have a great chance at taking down the Saints on Thursday night.
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