NFL Week 12 Picks: Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 11/27/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Atlanta -9
Current Betting Line:  Atlanta -9
Opening Total:  44
Current Total:  44
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Falcons Panthers NFL Game Preview
Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner is second in rushing touchdowns in the NFL since the start of the 2008 season

Minnesota is certainly going to be up against it in trying to snap its two-game losing streak, as star running back Adrian Peterson has been ruled out with an ankle injury.  The Vikings will be aiming to avoid their first 2-9 start since the 1961 inaugural season.  “We don’t want to put him at risk. You know how valuable he is to our team and our franchise,” commented Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier about Peterson.  It will be a youthful offensive huddle for the team, led by rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and second-year runner Toby Gerhart.  Minnesota is 2-0 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points this year.

The Vikings will have a hard time running the football without one of the best backs in the NFL, going against a Falcons’ defense that’s allowing just 85.4 yards per game on the ground.  Minnesota is also a dismal 3-10 away from the Twin Cities since the start of the 2010 campaign.  It’s still important to note that the team holds a 15-9 edge in this all-time series, but dropped a 24-17 contest as 3.5-point home favorites in the last meeting on Dec. 21, 2008.

Atlanta bounced back after its tough loss to the New Orleans Saints, walking away with a 23-17 win over the Tennessee Titans as 6.5-point home favorites.  The Falcons have won three of their last four games, out-gaining opponents by triple-digits in the last three.  “When we get the ball in there close, we’ve got to score touchdowns,” stated Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.  “That’s something we’ll work on.”  The unit ranks 12th in the NFL when reaching the 20-yard line, coming away with six points 54.1 percent of the time.  Atlanta is 18-9 ATS as a favorite the last two-plus years.

The Falcons have registered a 7-2 record against NFC North foes since Mike Smith took over the sidelines.  Atlanta will want to get the ball in the hands of running back Michael Turner, who is second in the NFL with 47 rushing touchdowns since the 2008 season, trailing only Peterson’s 51 in that particular category.  Ryan is starting to open things up in the passing game, posting consecutive 300-yard passing games for the first time in his young career.

Bettors will likely back the Falcons due to their 12-4 ATS mark as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Vikings are 2-9-1 ATS when facing winning teams.

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