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Minnesota Vikings 2014 opponent profile: Atlanta Falcons

Jamarca Sanford (33) tries to tackle Roddy White (84) in the last meeting between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons.
Jamarca Sanford (33) tries to tackle Roddy White (84) in the last meeting between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons.Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons were disappointments in 2013. The Falcons were expected to be in the playoffs and Vikings were expected to improve upon a wild card card birth in 2012. Both teams struggled and finished at the bottom of their respective divisions.

2013 Record: 4-12 (tied for third in the NFC South)

2013 Offensive Statistics: 22.1 points per game, 343.1 total offensive yards per game, 77.9 rushing yards per game, 265.2 passing yards per game, 26 turnovers

2013 Defensive Statistics: 27.7 points allowed per game, 379.4 total offensive yards allowed per game, 135.8 rushing yards allowed per game, 243.6 passing yards allowed per game, 21 turnovers forced, 32 sacks

Head Coach: Mike Smith (seventh season in Atlanta)

Key Returning Offensive Players: OT Sam Baker, G Justin Blalock, WR Harry Douglas, OT Lamar Holmes, RB Steven Jackson, OL Mike Johnson, WR Julio Jones, C Peter Konz, QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White

Key Returning Defensive Players: CB Robert Alford, DT Jonathan Babineaux, DE Kroy Biermann, DT Peria Jerry, S William Moore, DT Corey Peters, CB Desmond Trufant, DE Osi Umenyiora, LB Sean Weatherspoon

Free Agent Additions: G Jon Asamoah, CB Javier Arenas, G Gabe Carimi, WR Devin Hester, DE Tyson Jackson, S Dwight Lowery, TE Bear Pascoe, DT Paul Soliai, CB Josh Wilson

Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 6 - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M; Round 2, Pick 37 - Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota; Round 3, Pick 68 - Dez Southward, S, Wisconsin; Round 4, Pick 103 - Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State; Round 4, Pick 139 - Prince Shembo, LB, Notre Dame; Round 5, Pick 147 - Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue; Round 5, Pick 168 - Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse; Round 7, Pick 253 - Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut; Round 7, Pick 255 - Tyler Starr, LB, South Dakota

Outlook: Many experts were shocked by how bad the Falcons were last season. Injuries and poor line play contributed to the 12-loss season.

The Falcons couldn’t run the ball with the fewest rushing yards per game, nor stop the run with the second most rushing yards allowed per game. They didn’t stop the pass very well either with the 12th most passing yards allowed per game. The only thing they really did right was throw the ball with the seventh most passing yards per game.

They added a few players to help in the trenches - including two free agent offensive linemen, an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft and a defensive lineman in the second round.

The Vikings will be heavy under dogs at home against the Falcons. However, if the Falcons don’t improve their line play on both lines, the Vikings have a good opportunity to pull off the upset.