You know what the best part about the regular season is? Rather than having to discuss things like Belicheck v. Childress, dog fighting, roster cuts, coaching searches or any of that other incidental stuff that isn't football, we get to talk about the game. And it's a real game, that counts. And the Vikings, lucky them, get to play a team that they match up against perfectly on defense. The Falcons are a running team, with a shaky quarterback and a group of receivers that like to drop passes. And we all know that's exactly the kind of team that has no chance against the Vikings defense.
In seven games against the Vikings, Joey Harrington has completed 161 of his 283 attempts (56.9%) for 1680 yards. He's thrown 8 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while being sacked 12 times. That works out to a quarterback rating of 63.04, or slightly worse than his career rating of 68.1. Not exactly fear inducing numbers, that's for sure.
Harrington isn't the only reason not to be worried about the Falcons passing game. His receivers are pretty awful as well. Joe Horn was the only one who posted a positive DVOA (37.1%) or DPAR (20.7) last year, and he's 35 years old. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins both turned in Troy Williamson like seasons last year, with -.5 and -1.4 DPAR and -16.5% and -17.7% DVOA respectively. Both of them had lower catch percentages than Williamson, hauling in only 47% of the passes thrown their way.
The only real threat in their passing game is their tight end, Alge Crumpler. Last year, he was fourth in the NFL in yards amongst tight ends and second in touchdowns. He was also Michael Vick's favorite target by a long, as Vick threw twenty more passes to him then to any of his wide receivers. Crumpler hauled in 54% of those 103 passes, finishing the season with a 15.5 DPAR and 10.3% DVOA. I'd be a lot more worried about him if it weren't for the addition of a healthy Chad Greenway to the linebackers.
The Falcons awful passing game means that they'll have to rely on their running game to move the ball on offense. And while Jerious Norwood lead a terrific running game that averaged 5.46 yards per carry (1st in the NFL) with a 21.3 DPAR, 35.7% DVOA (3rd amongst running backs) and 53% success rate, the Williams brothers will have something to say about that. They lead the league by only allowing 2.83 YPC last year.
What all of this means is that it's very likely the Falcons offense is going to ignore the Patriots model of attacking the Vikings defense and challenge the Purple's superb run defense with their punishing running game. And I'm sure Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and the line backers are looking forward to it.