Notebook: What does 1-3 mean for Vikings?

The Vikings were one of the last NFL teams to start 1-3 and make the playoffs. How likely is that, based on NFL history in the 12-team playoff era? Plus, a few records involving former Vikings are looking like they will fall this weekend, and, despite a 0-3 start, the Vikings-Steelers game was heavily watched locally.

The Vikings are 1-3, which would seem to put them well out of the playoff race. But that's not necessarily true, according to NFL history.

While an 0-4 record would have left the Vikings virtually dead in the playoff chase, 1-3 isn't quite the death knell.

Since the current 12-team playoff system was implemented in 1990, 23 teams have rebounded from a losing record after four games and made the playoffs. In fact, four of those teams advanced to at least their conference championship game, including the winner of Super Bowl XXVI, the New England Patriots.

Better news yet for the Vikings: They were one of the last teams to pull off the playoff feat. In 2008, they rebounded from a 1-3 start and made the playoffs before losing out in the wild card game.

The last team to do it was the Denver Broncos, who started 1-3 and made it to the divisional playoff round in 2011. But the Vikings and Broncos were the only two teams in the last five years to pull out of a 1-3 start and make it to the postseason, and 2008 was the only time since 1990 for the Vikings to do that.

Only one of the 23 teams to come back from a losing record after four weeks and make the playoffs was 0-4 – the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.

REMEMBER WHEN?

Peyton Manning is tearing up the NFL, as the Denver Broncos quarterback has 16 touchdown passes in the first four games. The record-holder through five games should bring fond memories back for Vikings fans. It's Daunte Culpepper, who threw 18 touchdown passes in his first five games with the 2004 Vikings.

Manning would break that mark with three TD passes against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. With one touchdown pass on Sunday, Manning would move into second place, breaking the tie with Brett Favre (1996 Green Bay Packers) and Tom Brady (2007 New England Patriots). It's probably no coincidence that former Vikings receiver Randy Moss was part of Culpepper and Brady's marks.

There is also another record Manning is gunning for that involves a former Viking. With one more touchdown pass and no interceptions, Manning will surpass former Cleveland Browns QB Milt Plum (1960) for most consecutive touchdown passes without an interception to start a season. Currently tied for third on that list is Randall Cunningham, who started his 1998 season with the Vikings with 14 consecutive TD passes without an interception.

Yep, Moss was part of that, too, in his rookie season.

TARK'S MARK

Not to be outdone, Brady is also in the hunt for NFL records that involve former Vikings.

Brady has 341 career touchdown passes, just one short of Fran Tarkenton's career mark. Tarkenton is currently in fourth place with 342, behind Dan Marino (420), Manning (452) and Favre (508).

MUST-SEE TV?

Despite entering last Sunday's game with a 0-3 record, the Vikings were still the top-rated television show in the Minneapolis market for the week of Sept. 23-29.

The Vikings and Steelers game had a 33.2 rating and 67 share in Minneapolis, seventh among NFL markets last week. Pittsburgh was ninth with a 31.0 rating and 59 share.


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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