With a 2-3 record, the Minnesota Vikings are still well in the mix for the NFC North Division and the playoff hunt in the coming weeks. But in order to get to their goals, they likely will have to improve their rankings in numerous categories.
Despite the loss of Adrian Peterson for the last four games, and likely much longer, the Vikings are still at the tail end of the top 10 teams rushing the ball, but their overall offense has fallen into the bottom of the league in total offense (based on yards) and near the bottom in passing yards.
With only the Monday night game to go in Week 5, the Vikings have the 23rd-ranked offense overall – 10th in rushing and tied for 28 in passing. They are getting an average of 130 yards rushing per game, even without Peterson, and 205.2 yards passing.
They are 23rd in yards per play – 11th in rushing yards per attempt and 27th in passing yards per play. Their turnovers haven’t helped, as they are 28th in percentage of passes intercepted and 28th in sacks per pass play. They are also in the bottom third of the league in first downs per game (tied for 24th at 18.8) and third-down efficiency (26th at 36.4 percent). Their red zone offense has also been an issue, ranking 20th in touchdown percentage inside the red zone by getting into the end zone in only seven of their 14 trips inside the 20-yard line.
That has led to them being 26th in points scored per game.
Their defense has been a little better, or at least average in most categories.
They are 19th rushing yards per game and 18th in rushing yards per attempt. They are giving up an average of 121.8 yards rushing per game.
Defending the pass is about the same. They are 20th in passing net yards per play and giving up an average of 225.6 yards passing per game, 10th in the percentage of passes intercepted and 14th in sacks per pass play. They have been relatively stingy in giving up first downs, ranking seventh in the league there despite being tied for 25th in third-down conversions. Just as their red zone offense is lacking, so is their red zone defense. They are giving up touchdowns in 69.2 percent (9 of 13 times) of opponents’ trips inside the 20-yard line.
Defensively, they are 20th in points allowed per game.
Overall, the Vikings are tied for 21st with a minus-2 turnover ratio.
Special teams have helped their cause. They are 17th in punt return average and fifth in kickoff return average, 13th in gross punting average and 15th in net punting average.
Individually, Harrison Smith has the longest interception return in the NFL so far this season with his 81-yarder against St. Louis and is tied for the league lead with three interceptions (Josh Robinson is tied for fifth with two).
Everson Griffen is tied for 11th with three sacks while Anthony Barr and Tom Johnson are tied for 31st with two sacks.
But on offense the Vikings have only one 300-yard passing game (317 from Teddy Bridgewater), one 100-yard receiving game (132 from Jarius Wright) and two 100-yard rushing games (135 from Jerick McKinnon and 102 from Cordarrelle Patterson).
Matt Asiata ranks 23rd in the NFL with 231 yards rushing, and McKinnon is 38th with 166 yards. Asiata is tied for ninth with four touchdowns and tied for 36h with 342 yards from scrimmage.
Blair Walsh is 10th among kickers with 39 points (10 of 12 on field goals and nine PATs) and tied for fourth with 21 touchbacks.
Patterson is third with a 28-yard average on kickoff returns.
The rankings bear out what the record shows – the Vikings are about average in the NFL. That will need to improve if they hope to become contenders for the playoffs.
Vikings: Average record, average rankings
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