Injuries Haven't Derailed Offense

The Vikings came into the season with huge expectations, but a potpourri of injuries could have cut down on their offensive production. So far, however, their offensive numbers remain very strong.

Coming into the 2004 season, the Vikings had high hopes and there was quiet hushed-tone discussions about the potential of breaking the single-season scoring record.

With offensive weapons like Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss, Michael Bennett, Onterrio Smith, Jim Kleinsasser, Marcus Robinson, Nate Burleson, Jermaine Wiggins and Kelly Campbell, it was understandable.

Injuries to several of those players, as well as offensive linemen Matt Birk and Mike Rosenthal have changed that somewhat, but the numbers through three weeks seem to tell a continuing story of potential success for the Vikings.

Culpepper has averaged 315 yards a game through the air and has eight TDs. Randy Moss is on pace for 27 touchdowns – he likely won't maintain that, but it's impressive nonetheless. As a team, the Vikings are averaging 4.3 yards a carry and nobody on the team with more than one carry is averaging less than 4 yards per rush.

The Vikings' red zone offense hasn't been efficient, but it's put the team in the position to score often. Their 15 trips into the red zone in three games is the most of any team in the NFL. It's even more impressive when you consider who they've moved the ball against. The Cowboys led the league in total defense last year and the Eagles look as strong on defense as they ever have. Even the Bears with their injury problems typically keep the offense of the Vikings in check – but none of them have thus far.

Culpepper has found ways to spread the ball effectively. His QB rating of 124.8 is the best in the league, Moss is averaging more than six receptions a game and four players – Moss, Smith, Burleson and Wiggins – have 10 or more receptions, which would be on pace for 50 or more catches for each.

While injuries and lingering questions on defense remain, the Vikings still have all the tools in place to do some serious damage from the offensive side of the ball. And if that trend continues when they return from their bye week, there's no reason to believe it won't roll throughout the year.

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