Notebook: Vikings average in the rankings

The Vikings' Week 1 loss left them without any stellar rankings after the opening weekend of NFL play. They managed a few top-10 rankings, but not many, and Adrian Peterson is falling behind Chris Johnson after only one week. Plus, injuries are becoming a factor for other teams.

With Week 1 almost done, the Vikings are pretty average in the rankings, as you might expect after their lackluster 14-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints Thursday night.

Four days after that loss, the first set of NFL rankings are out and the Vikings are 14th on defense and 23rd on offense with two Monday night games left to play.

The Vikings are 16th in rushing offense and 23rd in passing offense while they are ranked seventh in rushing defense and 17th in passing defense. The Vikings finished second in rush defense last year and were first the previous three years.

On offense, the only areas in which the Vikings were in the top 10 were in sacks per pass play (ranking 10th), punting – where they ranked ninth in gross punting average and sixth in net punting average, and field goal percentage (tied with 17 other teams in at 100 percent). Their worst offensive ranking was in first downs per game, where they ranked 27th. They were 26th in punt return average.

Their special teams were even worse when it came to kickoff returns, with their average start position being an NFL-worst 18.3-yard line.

On defense, the Vikings were fifth in rushing yards yielded per attempt and fifth in third-down efficiency. They tied for first in fourth-down efficiency. They were fifth in punt return average, ninth in points per game and tied for second in field goal percentage against.

Individually, Favre ranks 20th in the league with a 71.7 passer rating.

Visanthe Shiancoe is tied for 40th in the league with four receptions and 21st in receiving yardage (76).

If it weren't for Michael Vick's 103-yard rushing effort for Philadelphia, Adrian Peterson would be the leading rusher in the conference, but his 87 yards ranks seventh in the league. There were four 100-yard rushing performances, highlighted by Arian Foster's 231 yards for Houston.

Peterson is 16th in league with 101 yards from scrimmage.

AD vs. CJ

Of course, the debate on the best running back in the league going into the season revolved around Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and Peterson. Johnson gained a big edge in that competition on Sunday.

He rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans' 38-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Johnson has now rushed for at least 100 yards in 12 consecutive games, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (11) for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Barry Sanders holds the record with 14 consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

HEALTH MATTERS

The Vikings entered their regular-season opener short-handed at a few positions – cornerback and wide receiver among them. However, they didn't appear to suffer anymore major injuries, which is more than some teams can say.

The Detroit Lions may be without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford when the Vikings play them in 13 days. Stafford suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder that could put him out for two to six weeks. Former Viking Shaun Hill replaced Stafford on Sunday.

The Packers could lose running back Ryan Grant for a couple of games with an ankle sprain suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles, in turn, may have also lost their starting quarterback for a week or more. Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion against the Green Bay Packers, as did Eagles starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley.

The Eagles also lost two other starters for a more extended periods of time. Starting center Jamaal Jackson suffered a torn biceps and fullback Leonard Weaver will be out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament after his leg got bent backwards.

Indianapolis safety Bob Sanders suffered an elbow injury, the extent of which isn't known.

While those are just some of the major injuries around the NFC North and the NFL in general, the Vikings could be getting a few key players returning to the field.

Cedric Griffin was questionable last week and with improved conditioning with more time on the practice field he would seem to stand a better chance at being active Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Griffin is working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24.

Griffin's status may depend somewhat on rookie cornerback Chris Cook, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Cook didn't practice last week and Vikings' first injury report of the week isn't expected out until Wednesday.

Fellow rookie second-round rookie Toby Gerhart is dealing with his own preseason knee injury and his status will likely come into clearer focus by midweek as well. The Vikings had only two active tailbacks on Thursday, Adrian Peterson and Albert Young.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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