When looking for superlatives to describe what the Vikings have done this season — particularly during their eight-game winning streak and even more so in the four games since the bye — I think Twitter follower Jake Whiting has come up with a new winner.
Maybe you had already seen this statistic, but I had not seen it compiled like this until Whiting tweeted at me today with this information:
The Vikings’ last three opponents have all been on winning streaks of three games or more at the time they played Minnesota, and they had all averaged at least 30 points per game during those streaks.
The Rams were on a four-game win streak and averaging 36 points. The Lions and Falcons both had three-game streaks during which they averaged 31.7 points per game.
The Vikings not only defeated all three teams, but also held them to an average of 13 points per game in the process — seven against the Rams, 23 against the Lions and nine against the Falcons.
Sunday’s opponent, Carolina, had been similarly hot before losing 31-21 at New Orleans last week. Before that game, the Panthers had won four in a row. And in the last two of those wins, they had averaged a whopping 40 points per game.
We will see Sunday if the Vikings can contain another explosive offense — in what you will see is a very important game.
If you’re into this sort of thing, FiveThirtyEight has a tool where you can see how a win or a loss in upcoming games impacts each team’s playoff odds. Right now the Vikings are given a better than 99 percent chance of making the playoffs and an 87 percent chance of getting a first-round bye (as one of the top two seeds in the conference).
A win over Carolina would clinch the NFC North and push the Vikings’ odds of getting a first-round bye to 98 percent. A loss wouldn’t do too much damage in the division race, but it would knock their chances of a first-round bye down to 75 percent and put pressure on Minnesota to finish strong against Cincinnati, Green Bay and Chicago.