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The Falcons New-Look Offensive Line Will Be Key To A Win Against The Vikings

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If you can slow down an effective Vikings defense, you have an excellent shot to win.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are a defensively-adept team. They have real talent all over the field on that side of the ball, Mike Zimmer is one of the finest defensive coaches working in the NFL today and Anthony Barr already looks scary as a rookie. Add it together and you've got a team that has the potential to field one of the leagues' scariest defenses in short order.

The Falcons will square off against that defense with a revamped offensive line, one that has done an excellent job of protecting Matt Ryan in two weeks and a so-so job of protecting him against Cincinnati. This is not the Bengals defense, which successful jammed receivers, applied consistent pressure and did a nice job of reading Matt Ryan's throws and forcing turnovers. Nonetheless, it is a team with seven sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble in just three games, and the front seven is stocked with dynamic defenders like Barr and the potent Everson Griffen. Free safety Harrison Smith shores up an otherwise so-so secondary basically by himself, and at 25 he's arguably already one of the league's better safeties.

The Vikings are weaker at cornerback, so if Matt Ryan has time to throw, good things likely follow. Because he needs that time and the Falcons need some semblance of offensive balance to keep the Vikings honest, a lot is going to fall on the broad shoulders of this offensive line. This is an excellent test for them.

With Jake Matthews in the fold, I fully anticipate the line will put up a competent performance against the Vikings. This line hasn't looked upgraded so much as it has transformed, with Justin Blalock thriving with competency on either side of him, Matthews looking advanced for a rookie, Joe Hawley solid at center and Jon Asamoah and Lamar Holmes durable and useful on the right side of the line. The abject fear I felt in 2013 when the Falcons were facing a team with a quality pass rush has evaporated, and I think the Falcons will be able to put together a strong offensive effort because of that.

How do you think the offensive line will fare?