Vikings’ rushing attack will be vital in their matchup with the Falcons

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Latavius Murray
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Latavius Murray /

In Week 13, the Minnesota Vikings will be taking on an Atalanta Falcons team that has not been that great at stopping the run in 2017.

Many of the storylines surrounding the Minnesota Vikings’ success this season have been centered around the surprising play of quarterback Case Keenum. But the Vikings’ improved running game may actually be an even more valid reason behind the team performing so well this year.

Not only is Minnesota currently home to the NFL’s sixth-best rushing offense, but they have ended eight of their 11 games this season with 100 or more yards on the ground. Something they only accomplished twice in 2016. Their offensive backfield also already has more touchdowns this year (12) than they had in all 16 games of last season (10).

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Latavius Murray
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Latavius Murray /

There were some legitimate concerns about how the Vikings’ rushing attack would perform after rookie running back Dalvin Cook went down in Week 4 with a season-ending knee injury. But both Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have stepped up in Cook’s absence and turned Minnesota’s offensive backfield into one of the best in the entire league.

Especially Murray as of late. In his last three games, the Vikings running back has rushed for 247 yards, averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns.

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Murray and McKinnon should have a nice opportunity to add to their impressive 2017 production when they take on an Atlanta Falcons defense that has not been the greatest this season when it comes to stopping the run. In seven of their 11 games this year, the Falcons’ have allowed their opponents to rush for at least 100 yards.

Atlanta in 2017 is 20th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, 25th in rushing yards allowed per carry, and their defense has given up eight touchdowns on the ground this season. Despite the fact that it looks like the Falcons have struggled at stopping the run this year, Jay Ajayi is actually the only running back to rush for over 100 yards against their defense in 2017.

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Considering Atlanta is much better on pass defense this year, Minnesota having a game-plan centered around them running the ball a bunch more than usual seems like it would be a good strategy for this week. One that could possibly lead them to winning eight games in a row for the first time since 1998.