Entering a season of big expectations, the Vikings and Colts both find themselves hoping to avoid a 0-2 start. Only one of the teams can this weekend.
Prior to the Packers game last Monday, several Vikings players pointed to the importance of getting off to a fast start. Last year, the Vikings came into the season with high hopes, but, after a 1-3 start, spent the rest of the season trying to dig themselves out of that hole. They were successful – a win over Washington in Week 16 would have clinched a wild card spot for the Vikings – but it took winning seven of the next 10 games to make up for the brutal.
Despite the knowledge that the toughest portion of the 2008 schedule was coming in the first five games, getting off to a fast start didn't seem all that likely. A 2-2 record through four games could be viewed as a victory. But, as the Vikings prepare to meet the Indianapolis Colts
this afternoon, both teams stare at the prospect of starting the season 0-2.
That would be uncharted territory for the Colts, who hadn't lost a game in September or October in four years. A 0-2 start for Indianapolis could cripple the team's hopes of putting together a sixth straight season with 12 or more wins. A 0-2 start for the Vikings would defeat the purpose of what so many coaches and players have pointed to as a must – getting off to a strong start and building early-season momentum.
Something will have to give today. One team will leave the game 0-2 and searching for answers that won't be easy to come by. To the winner goes the chance to claim their season-opening loss was a fluke. To the loser goes the prospect of having to dig themselves out of a big hole that gets deeper by the day.
BY THE NUMBERS
In Monday's loss to the Packers, the Vikings passed on first down 15 times. Unfortunately, Tarvaris Jackson completed just four of those passes.
Through one game, the Vikings have the eighth-rated offense (third rushing, 20th passing) and are tied for 18th on total defense (21st rushing, 16th passing). The Colts are tied for 20th on offense (29th rushing, seventh passing) and the 20th-rated defense (tied for 28th rushing, seventh passing).
The Vikings are last in the league in net punting average.
The Vikings are 21st in third-down conversions, but that pales in comparison to the Colts, who are 31st.
Maybe we shouldn't expect a big punt return today. The Colts are 31st in the league in punt return average. The only team worse? Minnesota.
The Vikings and Colts are tied for 20th in red zone scoring offense. Both teams got into the red zone three times in Week 1, but both came away with one TD and two field goals.
The Colts allowed the Bears into the red zone twice in Week 1, allowing one TD and one field goal. The Vikings allowed Green Bay in the red zone three times, allowing two TDs and a field goal.
In Week 1, the NFL average for third-down conversions was 36.8 percent. The Vikings converted on 43.8 percent of their third-down chances, while the Colts made good on 45.5 percent of their chances.
Defensively, the Vikings allowed the Packers to convert on 40 percent of their third-down opportunities, while the Colts allowed Chicago to convert 62.5 percent of the time (10 of 16 chances).
The Vikings are ninth in the league in yards gained on first down, averaging 6.00 yards. The Colts are 20th, averaging 3.90 yards.
Defensively, the Colts are second in yards allowed on first down, averaging just 2.25 per play. The Vikings are 31st, averaging a whopping 10.35 yards on first down plays.
Both the Vikings and Colts struggled to get good field position in Week 1. The Vikings were 30th in average offensive starting position – the average start being the 19.2-yard line. Only two teams were worse, but one of them was Indianapolis, whose average start was the 17.6-yard line after kickoffs.
The Vikings had 183 yards rushing in their opener, as opposed to just 53 for the Colts.
Defensively, the Colts allowed 319 total yards to 317 for the Vikings. The Bears ran for 183 yards, an average of 4.7 yards a carry. The Vikings allowed 139 yards, an average of 5.1 yards a carry.
The Colts allowed the Bears to complete 61.9 percent of their passes, but that paled to the Vikings – who allowed Aaron Rodgers to complete a whopping 81.8 percent of his passes.
In quarterback rating points kept by the league, Peyton Manning is ranked 17th, while Jackson is 28th.
Manning's passer rating is 81.8; Jackson's is just 59.0. That is better than Matt Hasselbeck and Carson Palmer – both Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Adrian Peterson sits in fifth position with 103 yards rushing. Joseph Addai's 44 yards rushing has him ranked 37th.
The Vikings' leading receiver is Garrett Mills with three catches for 49 yards. Four Colts players – Reggie Wayne (10), Marvin Harrison (8), Anthony Gonzalez (5) and Dominic Rhodes (4) – have more receptions.