The Minnesota Vikings have the rushing advantage over the Houston Texans, but perhaps the biggest deficiency in the matchup comes in the turnover department and head coach Leslie Frazier is well aware.
The Texans are second in the league with a plus-15 turnover differential – 28 takeaways and 13 giveaways. The Vikings, meanwhile, are 20th in the league at minus-3 in turnover differential – 19 takeways and 22 giveaways.
"What they've done with the turnover differential, I was talking to our team about that, plus-15 is pretty impressive," Frazier said. "The fewest turnovers in the league as an offense and getting done what they've been able to get done on defense. They're a good team. They compare favorably to any of the good teams in our league."
The Texans' biggest advantage comes in the fumble department. They have forced 15 fumbles, recovering a whopping 13 of them. On the flip said, Houston's opponents have forced only six fumbles, recovering two of them.
Despite all the criticism of quarterback Christian Ponder lately, the Vikings have won the interception battle the last two weeks, part of the reason they have won each of those games and remain in the playoff hunt. Ponder threw one interception against Chicago, but the Vikings intercepted two Jay Cutler passes, including one that was returned for a touchdown and another that was returned to the 5-yard to set up another score. At St. Louis, Everson Griffen's interception return for a touchdown helped put the momentum squarely on the Vikings' side and Ponder didn't throw any interceptions.
Ponder has thrown 11 interceptions while the Texans' Matt Schaub has 11 interceptions.
It's been more about the fumbles than interceptions for the Vikings (and Texans). The Vikings have lost four fumbles, with Ponder responsible for four of them. Adrian Peterson has fumbled four times and lost two, while Toby Gerhart is responsible for two, Jerome Simpson one and Harvin one.
When it comes to interceptions or fumbles, the Vikings aren't all that different on the road versus when playing at home. They are minus-1 with interceptions both at home and on the road. When it comes to fumbles. They are minus-2 on fumbles lost on the road and plus-1 at home.
For the Texans, only Brandon Tate and Arian Foster have lost fumbles.
There are numerous areas in which the Vikings will have to be rock solid to beat a 12-2 team on the road Sunday, but winning the turnover battle likely will be one of the most important.
"They're a very good football team," Frazier said. "At 12-2 and having the success that they've had, they're one of the top teams in our league. That being said, their record kind of speaks to who they are as a football team."
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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