The Minnesota Vikings have been playing football since 1961 and, in the first 55 years of their existence, they have only accomplished what the 2016 Vikings are looking to do eight times – open up the season with a 4-0 record.
While never a guarantee of season-long success, history tells us that the outlook is pretty good, since seven of those teams advanced to the playoffs and five of them went to the NFC title game or the Super Bowl.
Who are the others? This should bring back some memories for longtime Vikings fans.
2009 – The Vikings started 6-0 with Brett Favre as their QB and advanced to the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.
2003 – The frenetic team under head coach Mike Tice is the only team on this list that missed the playoffs. The Vikings started 6-0, but lost seven of their last 10 and finished at 9-7.
2000 – The Vikings started 7-0, but lost five of their last nine games to finish 11-5. They lost the NFC Championship Game 41-donut to the Giants.
1998 – Minnesota won its first seven games, finishing with a franchise-best 15-1 record, before losing in overtime to Atlanta in NFC Championship Game.
1996 – The Vikings started 4-0 and made the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Their season ended with a 40-15 drubbing by the Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round.
1975 – The Vikings won their first 10 games and finished the season 12-2. They lost in the first round of the playoffs on the fabled Hail Mary pass by Roger Staubach at Met Stadium.
1974 – The Vikings won their first five games, finishing 10-4. They would advance to the Super Bowl, where they lost to Pittsburgh.
1973 – Minnesota won its first nine games, finishing 12-2. The team went to Super Bowl, losing to Miami.
While a 4-0 start doesn’t assure that the Vikings will be in for a deep playoff run, history has taught us that it’s a pretty indicator of playing late-January or even February football.
VIKINGS-GIANTS BY THE NUMBERS
(Note: Because the Vikings and Giants are the last teams to play in Week 4, their numbers and rankings are based on heading into Week 4).
- The Vikings have the 31st-ranked offense (32nd rushing, 28th passing) and have the sixth-ranked defense (7th rushing, 9th passing).
- New York has the sixth-ranked offense (19th rushing, 5th passing) and 10th-ranked defense (5th rushing, 15th passing).
- The Vikings ranked first in the league in sacks per pass play.
- Minnesota is averaging 265 yards of offense a game (214 passing, 51 rushing). New York is averaging 397 yards a game (298 passing, 99 rushing).
- Only two NFL teams are averaging less than 70 yards a game rushing – Minnesota with 51 and Jacksonville with 55.
- The Vikings are allowing 295 yards a game (211 passing, 84 rushing). The Giants are allowing 340 yards a game (263 passing, 77 rushing).
- The Vikings lead the league in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-8 (nine takeaways, one giveaway). The Giants are tied for 30th at minus-6 (one takeaway, seven giveaways).
- The Minnesota offense has not had a giveaway through three games. It’s only giveaway was a defensive fumble following a fumble recovery by the defense.
- The Vikings are 30th in red zone offense, having scored touchdowns on just two of seven possessions (28.6 percent). The Giants are 24th at 45.5 percent (five touchdowns on 11 red zone possessions).
- The Giants are second in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just two of eight opponent possessions (25 percent). The Vikings are 27th at 71.4 percent, allowing touchdowns on five of seven opposition red zone opportunities.
- Minnesota has been brutal on third down on both sides of the ball. The Vikings are 25th in third-down offense, converting on just 13 of 40 opportunities (32.6 percent) and are shockingly 29th in red zone defense, allowing conversions on 46.5 percent of opponent chances (20 of 43). The league average for converting third downs is 40.1 percent.
- The Giants are ninth in third-down offense, converting on 16 of 34 chances (41.7 percent). They are 21st in third-down defense, allowing conversions at a rate of 43.5 percent (20 of 46).
- Minnesota is first in first-down defense, allowing just 3.38 yards per play.
- The Vikings are also first in average starting position following kickoffs at the 30.1-yard line – more than 5½ yards better than the league average.
- Eli Manning has two 300-yard passing games. The Vikings haven’t had one yet.
- Neither the Vikings nor Giants have allowed a 300-yard passer.
- Both teams have had a pair of 100-yard receiving games – Stefon Diggs has both of them for the Vikings and Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard each have one for the Giants.
- Neither Minnesota nor New York has had a 100-yard rusher or allowed one.
- Having played in just two games, Sam Bradford’s passing numbers widely vary in his rankings. He is 30th in attempts (59), 30th in completions (40), fifth in completion percentage (67.8), 30th in yards (457), tied for 19th in touchdown passes (3), tied for first in interceptions (0) and fourth in passer rating (107.8).
- Manning is 17th in attempts (107), eighth in completions (76), second in completion percentage (71.0), seventh in yards (925), tied for 16th in TD passes (4), tied for 18th in interceptions (3) and 10th in passer rating (98.1).
- Bradford is 16th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 86.2. Manning is 21st at 81.0.
- Manning is second in third-down passer rating at 116.4. Bradford is fifth at 108.4.
- Injured Shane Vereen is 23rd in rushing with 147 yards. Rashad Jennings is 35th with 102 yards. The Vikings don’t have a runner in the top 50.
- Diggs came into play this week tied for fifth in receptions with 20. Beckham is tied for ninth with 19 and Shepard is tied for 24th with 16. Kyle Rudolph is tied for 38th with 14.
- Diggs entered Week 4 second in receiving yards with 325. Beckham was eighth with 280. Shepard was 17th with 233.
- Blair Walsh is tied for 13th in scoring among kickers with 24 points. Josh Brown of the Giants is 20th with 19 points.
- Diggs is ninth with 324 yards from scrimmage (325 receiving, minus-1 rushing). Beckham is 18th with 280 yards (all receiving).
- Giants punter Brad Wing leads the league in punting average at 51.5 yards. Jeff Locke is 23rd at 42.6 yards.
- Locke is 14th in net average at 40.5 yards, while Wing is 29th at 35.4 yards.
- Opponents of the Giants are averaging 14.4 yards per punt return, while the Vikings are allowing an average return of 4.0 yards.
- Marcus Sherels is seventh in the league with a punt return average of 13.6 yards. The Giants haven’t had a returner with enough returns to qualify for the league lead.
- Cordarrelle Patterson leads the league in kickoff return average at 32.6 yards – more than three yards better than anyone else in the league.
- Trae Waynes is tied for third in the league with two interceptions.
- Everson Griffen entered the weekend tied for second in sacks with four, trailing only Denver’s Von Miller (five). Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph are both tied for fifth with three. As a team, the Giants have just two sacks.
- Andrew Sendejo is tied for first in the league with two defensive fumble recoveries.