Here are your three crazy stats of the day:
1) Where would you guess the Vikings rank in the NFL in terms of points scored? Somewhere from the middle to the bottom, maybe, given their QB carousel and related shenanigans, maybe? Somewhere like 19th?
Wrong. They are 8th.
We were shocked, too. We looked it up casually last night out curiosity, and we're really floored. 8th in the entire NFL in points scored. They are averaging almost 26 points per game, 363 total. Sure, that was skewed/helped by a 48-point outburst on Sunday, but still. That's top 10 in points scored.
2) Of the top 17 teams in terms of points scored, 16 have at least .500 records. Yes, the only one of those 17 that doesn't is the Vikings, who aren't even close at 4-9-1. Of the bottom 15 teams in points scored, only two have records of .500 or better (Miami and Baltimore).
3) If we want to go even deeper, here is what we find out: The Vikings have scored four TDs on defense or special teams this season (two KO returns, a punt return and a fumble return). Three came while Christian Ponder was the QB, and one came in the Josh Freeman game. So in terms of pure offensive output, not taking into account any short fields created by defense or special teams, here is roughly what each QB has produced:
Ponder has played roughly the equivalent of 8 full games (all of at Detroit, at Chicago, Cleveland, at Dallas, both Packers games ... plus three-quarters of Seattle and Washington and half of home vs. Chicago). In his time, the Vikings have scored 209 points. Subtract 21 for the three defensive/special teams TDs, and you get 188 offensive points during Ponder's equivalent of eight games, an average of 23.5 per game.
Freeman played one game and put up ZERO offensive points (the only TD was a punt return in the Giants game) for an average of 0 per game.
Cassel has played about the equivalent of five full games (Pittsburgh, Carolina, Baltimore, Philadelphia, half of Chicago and a quarter of Seattle and Washington). He has accounted for 147 offensive points in the equivalent of five full games, an average of 29.4 offensive points per game.
That pace for Cassel, if it was through the full 14 game schedule, would give the Vikings 412 offensive points. That total would rank them second in the NFL behind the Broncos, without even accounting for any special teams or defensive scores.
That pace for Freeman would be an NFL record, obviously, for futility.
And that pace for Ponder over 14 games, just offensive points, would give the Vikings 329 offensive points. That would rank them 16th in the NFL before other points were accounted for.
The takeaways: In a decent but limited sample size, Cassel is basically worth 6 more offensive points per game to the Vikings than Ponder. The Vikings have given up 425 points -- second-worst in the NFL, just ahead of Washington -- but they have also lost four games by four points or fewer.
Much of Cassel's work, too, has come against tougher defenses. He played the full game vs. Carolina (second-toughest scoring D), a quarter vs. Seattle (toughest scoring D) and a full game in the snow against Baltimore (seventh-toughest scoring D) and a full-game vs. Pittsburgh (15th). Ponder played three quarters vs. stingy Seattle before getting benched. Here are the rest of the games he started and the teams' scoring defense rank: Detroit (16th), Chicago twice (28th), Cleveland (22nd), Green Bay twice (21st), Dallas (26th) and Washington (32nd).
No wonder Vikings players are tempted to ask "what if" Cassel had been starting the whole season.