The Vikings are 4-0 and off to their best start since the 2003 season, when they won their first 6 games.
But you don’t need to go back to the ’03 season to appreciate just how well the Vikings have begun the 2009 season. All you need to do is compare some key statistics through the first quarter of the 2009 season to those same stats through the first 4 games of 2008.
The Vikings were 1-3 after a quartet of games last year, and they were -2 in turnover ratio. This year, the Vikings 4 wins have come while the team has managed a +5 turnover margin. Only 3 teams have a better turnover ratio, and 2 of them are also 4-0.
Turnovers end drives, but there are a couple of other notorious drive killers – penalties and sacks. And in what shouldn’t be a surprise, the Vikings are better in both of those areas, too. Through 4 games in 2008, the Vikings had allowed 10 sacks and were penalized 27 times. So far this year, the Vikings have been penalized 8 fewer times and have allowed 1 less sack; in addition, they’ve sacked opposing QBs 16 times this year, compared to just 7 sacks at this time last year.
Finally, it’s important to point out that the Vikings have 8 TD passes through 4 games this year, compared to just 2 TD passes at this time last year. Yes, the Vikings bread and butter is the run game. And it’ll continue to be that way. But the NFL is a passing league and being able to pick yards up and score TDs through the air is vital.
All of these stats provide encouraging signs for the Vikings as they prepare to begin the 2nd quarter of the season. But the road does not get easier from here on out. The Vikings start this quarter of the season on the road, playing a team with a coaching staff that knows the Vikings staff quite well. Also, Steven Jackson scored 4 total TDs against the Vikings and ran for 142 yards against the Purple the last time these 2 teams met (Week 17 of 2006).
Also making life more difficult for the Vikings during the next month will be 3 road games in 4 weeks, including games at Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The Vikings haven’t won at Lambeau during head coach Brad Childress’ tenure and playing at Pittsburgh is about as tough as it gets on the road. And that 1 home game – it’s against Baltimore, a team that made it to the AFC Championship game a year ago and will come into Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome with a solid record.
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