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Four Critical Matchups In The Falcons-Vikings Game

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Think Ray Edwards is ready for this one?  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Think Ray Edwards is ready for this one? (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Atlanta Falcons get a home game against the Minnesota Vikings at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Those are the facts.

Beyond that, it's mostly analysis. That's what I'm offering up today, in the form of the four matchups of the game that you've come to know and love. Or at least know.

Since this is a holiday weekend and everyone's feeling lazy, let's skip the in-depth preamble. We'll be talking about this one all afternoon tomorrow and into Monday, after all. After the jump, you'll find the steak and potatoes of this post.

Will Svitek versus Jared Allen

Allen is awesome. He has 14 sacks in 2011 and eats tackles for breakfast when he's not eating them for lunch, which leaves him just enough room to put down a quarterback for dinner. Jared Allen is the source of all my Vikings-related nightmares.

So it's critically important that Will Svitek put a stop to him. Sam Baker is questionable, and that means the Falcons are unlikely to toss him to the wolves in such an unfavorable matchup. That leaves Svitek to hold back a guy with more sacks than games played this year.

Thankfully, Svitek's put together a nice few weeks, largely limiting the damage to Matt Ryan. With his sound fundamentals and quality strength, he should be able to keep this from turning into a bloodbath.

If he does allow a sack, I'm not going to crucify him for it. As long as it's only one.

Falcons Cornerback(s) versus Percy Harvin

The reason for the lack of specificity is that Harvin lines up all over the field. He could be shadowed by Brent Grimes on one play, Dunta Robinson on the next and Chris Owens on yet another. That means quality play from every cornerback on the field.

Truthfully, Harvin hasn't had a great season. He has 43 catches for 459 yards, or a 10.7 average. Based on that little slice of history, you'd think he wouldn't be the most dangerous receiver on the field. You'd be wrong.

Harvin's versatility and his agility are what make me nervous. The Falcons do still whiff on the occasional tackle, and Harvin is deadly in open space. If he actually gets going for the first or second time this season, watch out.

Ray Edwards versus Christian Ponder

This is a fun one.

The Minnesota Vikings have struggled to protect the quarterback. In all, they've allowed 30 sacks split between Ponder and Donovan McNabb. That's nothing to sneeze at, and the Falcons should be capable of getting pressure.

I single out Ray Edwards because he has to be amped for this game. He's returning to the team that basically let him walk away after the 2010 season, a team that kept Brian Robison instead. Even more galling, Robison has more sacks than he does. I'd be mad in his shoes.

With a little luck and a lot of skill, Edwards should be able to take down Ponder in this one. I'll be interested to see what he does.

Matt Bosher versus Percy Harvin/Lorenzo Booker

Yes, we're back to Harvin.

Lorenzo Booker may return more kicks, especially because Harvin's injury issues have made the team wary of his returning. But Harvin's extremely dangerous on returns, averaging nearly 30 yards an attempt. He also has a touchdown.

Matt Bosher has gone from being the worst punter in the league into a pretty talented one, and a damn fine kickoff specialist to boot. Hopefully he can neutralize the Vikings' returners.

Weigh in on these matchups!