Wide receiver Cris Carter left the Minnesota Vikings after last season because he wanted to play for a contender and figured the Vikings had little chance of doing much this season. Carter has been proven right, although the Vikings still can be a dangerous team.

Just ask the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, two NFC playoff-bound teams that were beaten by the Vikings in the last month.

After all, any team that has Daunte Culpepper at running back, Randy Moss at wide receiver and emerging star Michael Bennett at running back can do some damage offensively.

Sure enough, Minnesota ranks third in the NFL in total offense with an average of 383.9 yards per game.

The Vikings have topped the 20-point mark in 11 of their 14 games, with a high of 39 against Buffalo in the second week of the season.

But the Vikings have been done in by their habit of turning the ball over. They have had the worst turnover ratio in the NFL for several weeks now, and their total currently stands at minus-18.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper is the poster child for the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of this year's Vikings team.

He can be brilliant at times. He has passed for 3,297 yards and added another 508 yards on the ground along with nine rushing touchdowns.

But he also has thrown 20 interceptions, often trying to force things to Moss.

Coach Mike Tice created the term "Randy Ratio" before the season as a way to explain the need to get Moss the ball a certain number of times every week.

But the Vikings got guilty of trying to force the issue too often, and Tice says his team has learned to now take what the defense is giving.

Bennett, for his part, made history this season as the first back with a run of 60 yards or more in three consecutive games.

The 2001 first-round pick from Wisconsin is quickly making Vikings fans forget about the retired Robert Smith.

The Minnesota defense is still mediocre, as has been the case for severaly years, but at least it has made strides against the run.

One reason for that has been the addition of former Dolphins defensive end Kenny Mixon, whose work was called this week by Tice "outstanding."

Along with Mixon, the Vikings also have gotten good work from defensive tackle Chris Hovan.

Where the Vikings really have struggled on defense is in the passing game. Only Kansas City gives up more passing yardage in the league than the Vikes.

The Vikings special teams have been anything but this season, particularly in the Week 2 loss to Buffalo when two missed extra points and a touchdown allowed on a kickoff return wound up costing them the game.

Dolphins Report Top Stories