Not to say I told you so but.....
The Atlanta Falcons entered this important Week 13 matchup against one of the top teams in the NFL but personally, I felt the Falcons were going come up short and end their win streak. Predictions on weekly podcast The Falcoholic Live as well as the final score predictions from the Falcoholic staff illustrated what I thought would be a tough loss for then-surging Falcons.
A 14-9 defeat to the Vikings is a slight setback for the Falcons. It's a jab towards the team's playoff hopes. However, I am also here to say that it showed the up-and-down Falcons are more than capable of going one-on-one with one of the league's best.
It was refreshing to see the crafty Devonta Freeman back on the field making defenders regret attempting to tackle him. It was exciting to see free safety Ricardo Allen fly around and make plays when the team needed him. Seeing rookie edge rusher Takkarist McKinley race around the edge and getting after Vikings quarterback Case Keenum was exhilarating.
It was also discouraging to see the talented Falcons offense come up short on an alarming amount of third downs. It was terrifying to witness kicker Matt Bryant miss a field goal late in the contest that would have trimmed the deficit. Ultimately, the Falcons suffered a loss that could have been easily their biggest win of the season. So going forward, the Falcons now have to turn their entire focus on division rivals as their last four games of the season are within the NFC South.
If anything, this contest gave the Falcons just a taste of what the rest of the season is going to take in order to break into the playoffs. From here on out, the Falcons will have to fight a little more in order to waltz into postseason. The offense will definitely need to crack down on third down opportunities. Credit is given to the Vikings second ranked overall defense, a unit of veterans that are tougher than old leather. The defense will still have to find traction in the takeaway department. Being "all about the ball" has not been the case so far this season.
It took one final drive from the Vikings to officially put Falcons away. So for four quarters, that toughness that is always questioned by inside and outside observers was clear. If this team can find a way to dig a little deeper, the Falcons will be a stubborn bunch of talent for a number of opposing teams.