The Vikings have struggled mightily this year, and the numbers show exactly why. Their wins have come against inferior opponents and they can't beat winning teams. The point totals don't up to last year and they rank poorly in a lot of key categories. We examine the carnage to date.
As the Vikings try to get their first win in the six-week trial period for head coach Leslie Frazier, they look to erase the memory of their dismal 3-7 season. There hasn't been much that has gone right for the Vikings, and what makes it more disconcerting is the three games that they've won.
The only convincing win for the Vikings came against Detroit in a 24-10 win in Week 3. Other than that, the only wins the Vikings have recorded have been against 3-7 Dallas and 3-7 Arizona. The win over Dallas came thanks in large part to a series on penalties that killed the Cowboys throughout the game and the win over the Cardinals was a minor miracle, as the Vikings scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes and won the game in overtime.
Just as their three wins have been suspect – the teams they've beaten are a combined 8-22. However, the seven losses have come against the 7-3 Saints, 5-5 Dolphins, 8-2 Jets, 7-3 Packers (twice), the 8-2 Patriots and the 7-3 Bears. The teams they have lost to are a combined 49-21 – a whopping 70 percent winning percentage. They have made their intentions quite simple – beat the teams they should beat and lose to teams with winning records. That may not bode too well considering the Redskins are 5-5 and the Vikings have lost nine straight games on the road.
But everyone from Zygi Wilf to Frazier to the players all have been in lockstep that the past has no bearing on Sunday. The Vikings' problems have been consistent and not a strange roller-coaster ride like Washington has endured – the Redskins have allowed 16 points or fewer in all five of their wins and in their losses have allowed points totals of 27, 30, 30, 37 and 59. The Vikings have been painfully predictable in several critical areas.
As a team, the Vikings have scored more than 24 points in just one game – a 27-24 win over Arizona where the points that put them over the 24-point barrier came in overtime. They have scored 27 points, 24 points three times and other games with 20, 18, 10, 10, nine and three points. The Vikings could have the 1985 Bears defense and have trouble winning when the offense puts up those kinds of numbers. For a team that averaged 29 points a game in 2009, they haven't reached that point total yet this year.
was at or near the top of the quarterback rankings all season last year with a passer rating over 100 all season and finished with a league-low seven interceptions. This year, he leads the league in interceptions with 17 and his passer rating of 69.8 is at the bottom of the quarterback rankings. As important as Favre was to the success of the 2009 Vikings, his ineffectiveness has been just as critical to the team's demise in 2010.
The offensive problems can be attributed to injuries, but the fact is that the Vikings were at their worst when they should have been at their best. The team has scored just 27 points in the first quarter of their games – three touchdowns and two field goals in 10 games. They have been outscored in all four quarters and their two worst defeats have come in the last two weeks – losing by 14 points to Chicago and 28 points to Green Bay.
The defense is not without blame. Coming off a season in which they led the league with 48 sacks, the Vikings are on pace for just 27 sacks this year. For the last three years, the Vikings were either first or second in run defense. This year, they have dropped to seventh. Complicating matters, the Vikings have been at their best in recent years on third downs, getting off the field and getting the Vikings offense back in business. This season, they are among the worst in the league and, making a bad situation worse, they have allowed as many conversions of third-and-8 or longer as any team in the league.
The pass defense has been a culprit, because, without the benefit of a consistent pass rush, they have been picked apart. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 17 touchdowns with just eight interceptions and a passer rating of 91.5. The inability of the defense to make plays to turn the ball back over to the offense has contributed to the Vikings having the league's worst giveaway/takeaway ratio at minus-13.
Denny Green would say of this team, "They are who we thought they were." The Vikings enter today's game at 3-7, looking to turn the corner on a disappointing season. They don't want to talk about the past, but, given the past they have been asked to talk about, it's no wondering that they want to look forward and not backward. Looking back is just too painful.
VIKINGS-REDSKINS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 18th-ranked offense (10th rushing, 18th passing) and the 10th-ranked defense (seventh rushing, 15th passing). Washington is 15th on offense (22nd rushing, 10th passing) and has the worst defense in the league, ranking 32nd (27th rushing, 29th passing).
The Vikings are averaging 336.8 yards a game on offense (218.3 passing, 118.5 rushing). The Redskins are averaging 344.4 yards a game (247.5 passing, 96.9 rushing).
The Vikings defense is allowing 317.1 yards a game (218 passing, 99.1 rushing). Washington is allowing almost 100 yards a game more, averaging 411.1 per contest (280.1 passing, 131 rushing).
The Vikings have the 25th-ranked third-down offense, converting just 35.5 percent (44 of 124). The Redskins are the worst in the league, making good on just 25.2 percent (32 of 127). The league average is 38.7 percent conversion
The Vikings defense is brutal at 28th in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 43.1 percent of their chances (59 of 137). The Redskins defense has been ugly, but has been very good on third down, ranking sixth with an impressive 34.4 percentage (45 of 131). The league average is 38.7 percent.
Neither defense is impressive in sacking quarterbacks. The Vikings are 23rd in sacks per opponent pass play, but the Redskins are even worse at 25th.
The Redskins are 23rd in points per game (20.2). The Vikings are worse, tied for 29th with 17.2 points a game.
Only Carolina (117) and San Francisco (160) have scored fewer points than the Vikings.
The Vikings are dead last in the NFL in giveaway/takeaway ratio at minus-13 (12 takeaways, 25 giveaways). The Redskins are tied for seventh at plus-6 (21 takeaways, 15 giveaways).
Only three teams have fewer takeaways than the Vikings defense – Houston (10), Denver (11) and Buffalo (11) – and one of those takeaways came on a stripped fumble by wide receiver Greg Camarillo.
Only three teams have more giveaways than the Vikings offense – Arizona (26), Carolina (28) and the Giants (30).
The Vikings offense is tied for 28th in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on just 12 of 30 red zone possessions. The Redskins are 23rd, making good on 12 of 26 red zone chances.
The Vikings have come away without points on a troubling 26.7 percent of their red zone possessions (eight of 30). Only Carolina (nine of 20) has come up empty more often than the Vikings.
Defensively, the Vikings are tied for 21st in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 57.1 percent of opponent drives (16 touchdowns in 28 possessions). The Redskins are 17th, allowing touchdowns on 18 of 34 possessions (52.9 percent).
The Vikings are second in the league in average offensive starting position, typically starting at the 30.4-yard line, 4.2 yards more than the league average. However, they are the worst defensively in average starting point allowed at the 30.7-yard line – almost a full yard more than the next-worst team and 4.5 yards over the league average.
Donovan McNabb has three 300-yard passing games this season. Favre has just one. Conversely, the Vikings have allowed just one 300-yard passer, while the Redskins have allowed three.
Santana Moss has three 100-yard receiving games to account for all of Washington's milestone performances. Percy Harvin has both 100-yard games for the Vikings. The Vikings have allowed four 100-yard receivers (all in the last five weeks). Washington has allowed five 100-yard receivers.
Adrian Peterson has three 100-yard rushing games. Injured Ryan Torain has both of Washington's 100-yard rushing games. The Vikings have allowed just one 100-yard rusher. Washington has allowed four.
Favre and McNabb have both struggled badly this year. Favre is 32nd in passer rating at 69.8. McNabb isn't much better at 76.1 – which ranks 28th in the league.
Favre is tied for 23rd in touchdown passes (10), 29th in touchdown percentage (3.1) and has the most interceptions in the league with 17.
While McNabb is fifth in passing yards (2,642), he is tied for 23rd with Favre at 10 touchdowns, is 31st in touchdown percentage (2.8) and is 29th in interceptions with 12.
As bad as Favre's passer rating is, it is even worse on third down (59.9). McNabb is also worse on third down (a 67.1 passer rating).
Of the 30 quarterbacks with enough passes to qualify, McNabb has the worst fourth-quarter passer rating of 50.7. Favre is 24th at 68.2.
Peterson needs just 20 yards Sunday to top 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season. He trails Houston's Arian Foster by just 24 yards for the league lead in rushing. Only one other runner (Tennessee's Chris Johnson with 968 yards) is within 100 yards of either of them. Torain is currently the Redskins rushing leader with 393 yards, good enough for just 34th in the league.
Moss is tied for eighth in the league in receptions with 57. Tight end Chris Cooley is tied for 22nd with 49 catches. Harvin is tied for 29th with 46 receptions to lead the Vikings.
Moss is eighth in the league with 738 receiving yards. Harvin tops the Vikings with 595 receiving yards, 26th best in the NFL.
Peterson is tied for 11th place in scoring among non-kickers with 48 points (eight touchdowns). Harvin is tied for 24th with 38 points (one rushing touchdown, four receiving touchdowns, one kick return TD and one two-point reception). Undrafted rookie running back Keiland Williams leads the Redskins with 30 points (five touchdowns).
Ryan Longwell is tied for 30th among kickers in scoring with just 50 points. Washington kicker Graham Gano is tied for ninth with 76 points.
You can't blame Longwell for his low point total. He has made 11 of 12 field goal attempts and is second in the league with a .917 field goal percentage – trailing only Tennessee's Rob Bironas (19 of 20, .950 percent).
Longwell is on pace to score just 80 points this year. He has never scored fewer than 90 points in his 13 previous seasons, has 120 or more points in eight seasons and 259 in his previous two years with the Vikings.
In 2008-09, Longwell averaged 8.1 points a game. He is averaging five points a game this year.
Peterson is second in the league in total yards from scrimmage with 1,297 yards (980 rushing, 297 receiving). He trails Foster by 105 yards and leads San Francisco's Frank Gore by 24 yards and Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs by 73 yards.
Undrafted Redskins rookie Brandon Banks is seventh in the league in kick returns with a 26.4-yard average. Harvin is 20th, averaging 23.8 yards per kickoff return.
DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins is second in the league with six interceptions, trailing only Philadelphia's Asante Samuel (seven). No Viking has more than two picks this season.
Washington's Brian Orapko is tied for 10th in the league with 7.5 sacks. Jared Allen is tied for 21st with 6.5 sacks.