Despite going 5-1, stats show Vikings are average
With a 5-1 record, the Minnesota Vikings established themselves as legitimate contenders in their first year under Kevin O’Connell. After spending the past two years edging their way just to .500, Vikings fans are elated, dreaming of playoff victories and even playoff home court advantage.
Based on their record, the Vikings are suitors. According to the numbers, they are a slightly above average football team. The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin included an NFL tier roster coming out of Week 7 and the Vikings aren’t in the elite at anything.
It starts with the play of Kirk Cousins, who has generated three game-winning drives this season, but has also produced a plethora of three-and-outs. Baldwin’s Quarterback Levels compares a quarterback’s Pro Football Focus Rating and their Expected Added Offense Points (EPA).
Cousins’ PFF offensive rating of 75.4 is ninth in the NFL, but his expected points added are just zero, putting him right in the middle of Baldwin’s chart.
The Vikings have also been in the middle when it comes to how much of the ball they run in second and length, the efficiency of their passing game versus their running game, and even their pass protection.
What about the Vikings in terms of aggression? Mike Zimmer has often been criticized for his willingness to push forward on fourth down, but O’Connell hasn’t represented a major change as the Vikings sit right in the middle of fourth down aggression.
Average Viking numbers extend further. The Vikings rank 13th in points per game and 16th in yards per game. With no one besides Justin Jefferson jumping off the page, it’s no surprise that Baldwin has the Vikings right next to the Packers in the numerical power rankings.
Baldwin has the Vikings in the NFL’s “middle class” in his own power rankings.
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While some will debate the merit of Baldwin’s analyses, but the six-game eye test would also rate the Vikings as average or slightly above average.
Consider that the Vikings crushed a Green Bay Packers team without Allen Lazard, David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins in Week 1. They were then crushed by the Philadelphia Eagles, who look like the only elite team in the NFC.
Dan Campbell’s poor decision on fourth down led to a 1-5 win over the Detroit Lions and the Vikings needed a brace to escape London with a victory over the New Orleans Saints. Another late practice was needed to beat the Chicago Bears and the Vikings recorded eight straight three-and-outs to open their win over the Miami Dolphins.
The Vikings have found a way to “win in the margins” as Kevin O’Connell calls it, but it’s unlikely they can keep it going until the Super Bowl or even just a playoff win. playoffs.
“Yes, their points differential suggests they are maybe closer to a 3 or 4 win team than a 5 win team, but I also think they have earned a lot of their own luck with players playing at their best time,” says Matthew Coller of Purple Insider.
But they’ll definitely need to be more consistent on offense and better on defense when they face the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, and maybe even this week’s opponent Arizona.
“If you play as an intermediate team, you won’t win these games. They need to improve on both sides of the ball, be more aggressive in defence,” Coller said. “And on the attacking side, find more consistency.”
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