Avoiding 0-3 crucial for Vikings

The NFL omen doesn't get much worse than starting a season 0-3, something the Vikings hope to avoid today.

The Vikings are facing the long end of bad odds if they lose today. In a season that has been viewed as one of the most promising in years, the Vikings are in danger of starting 0-3. The last time they did that was 2002, when they started 0-4 and finished the season with a 6-10 record.

In their nearly 50 years of existence, the Vikings have started a season 0-3 just three times – the other times being 1967, when they started 0-4 and finished 3-8-3 and 1962, when they started 0-5 and finished 2-11-1.

Much has been made that a 0-2 start doesn't necessarily mean a death sentence for a team. But, to start 0-3, the numbers get brutally bad. Considering how rarely the Vikings have had a start so hideous, much less the final result of those seasons, winning today has to be viewed as a must.

VIKINGS-PANTHERS BY THE NUMBERS

  • The Vikings have the 15th rated offense in the league (4th rushing, 24th passing) and the 20th rated defense (7th rushing, 24th passing).

  • The Panthers are tied for the 19th rated offense (12th rushing, 18th passing) and the 12th rated defense (19th rushing, 13th passing).

  • The Vikings have the fifth best average per rushing attempt, while the Panthers are 15th.

  • The Vikings are tied for 10th in number of first downs by their offense. The Panthers are tied for 22nd. On defense, the Vikings are tied for 9th place in first downs allowed by the defense and the Panthers are 6th.

  • Neither team has been good on third down – the Vikings are 20th in third-down conversion percentage, while the Panthers are tied for 27th.

  • The Vikings are 31st in punt return average.

  • The Vikings are averaging 183.5 yards a game rushing. Four teams are averaging more than 200 yards rushing a game – Baltimore, Oakland and Atlanta.

  • The Vikings are averaging 40 yards more a game rushing than passing.

  • Defensively, the Vikings are allowing 319 yards a game – 82 rushing and 237 passing.

  • In the red zone, the Panthers rank 18th in TD percentage, scoring three TDs on seven possessions. The Vikings are tied for 30th (five possessions, 1 touchdown). Only Baltimore (o-for-3) is worse.

  • Through two games, the league average for converting third downs is 36.8 percent. Both the Vikings and Panthers are considerably under that – Minnesota is at 31 percent, while the Panthers are a woeful 25 percent.

  • On the flip side, both defenses have been worse than the league average defensively allowing third down conversions – the Panthers allowing 37 percent of third downs to be converted while the Vikings have allowed a 40 percent conversion rate.

  • The Vikings have averaged 6.02 yards on first down plays, a full yard better than the league average and enough to rank 6th in the league. The Panthers are 21st in first down yardage at 4.74 yards.

  • Defensively, both teams are in the bottom third of the league – the Panthers allowing 5.15 yards on first down plays for 22nd place in the league and the Vikings allowing a whopping 7.9 yards per play – 31st in the league and ahead of only Detroit (9.17 yards).

  • Adrian Peterson's 29 carries last week were the most attempts by any running back in a game this season.

  • The Vikings are sixth in the league in time of possession, averaging 32:17 of clock time on offense. The Panthers aren't far behind, averaging 31:53 in time possession.

  • The Vikings have allowed 68.8 percent of opponent passes to be completed, while Carolina has allowed 61 percent of opposition passes to be completed.

  • Through two weeks, there have been 12 300-yard passing days, 13 100-yard rushing games and 21 100-yard receiving games. Neither team has a 100-yard receiver or 300-yard passer, but Peterson has two of the league's 13 100-yard rushing games.

  • Perhaps the numbers speak louder as to why Tarvaris Jackson was benched. Among starting QBs, T-Jack ranked 28th in completion percentage, 23rd in yards gained, 26th in average gain and 26th in touchdown percentage.

  • Jake Delhomme has a passer rating of 110.0 in the fourth quarter – 37 rating points above his overall average.

  • Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 263 yards – one yard more than Michael Turner of the Falcons. Carolina's Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are 18th and 20th, respectively, in rushing yards.

  • Peterson leads the Vikings with five receptions, which ranks him tied for 65th in the league.

  • Garrett Mills leads the Vikings in receiving yardage with 49, which is tied for 93rd in the league.

  • Kickers Ryan Longwell and John Kasay are tied for the scoring lead among kickers with 22 points each. Twenty-one of Longwell's points have come on field goals and his eight attempts and seven made field goals are both tops in the league.

  • Carolina kicker Rhys Lloyd is tied for the league lead with five kickoffs for touchbacks.

  • Peterson leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage with 294 – 20 yards more than any other player.

  • Chester Taylor is No. 2 in the NFC in kickoff returns, averaging 28.6 yards per return.


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