VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData and Patrick Donnelly, who has written on a variety of Minnesota sports topics. Mitchell and Donnelly are Twin Cities-based Vikings and NFL experts who crunch numbers, watch video and tell you what's on their minds.

VikesCentric: A 1-3 preseason historically leads to winning records

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: August 30, 2013 - 2:27 PM

This just in: preseason NFL records mean nothing. Absolutely nothing.

 
It's something that most NFL observers know to be true based on what we all see from year-to-year. So for those Vikings fans out there that crawled out to the ledge prior to their resounding 24-23 thumping of the Titans Thursday night, you can come back down now. Yes, even though they only went 1-3. Calm down and put your Helga Horns back on.
 
The Packers and Giants went 1-3 this preseason. The Falcons finished 0-4. All of those teams are expected to make another run at the playoffs in 2013. Yes, the Vikings could also make another run at the playoffs this year. Or they might not. Rest assured, whether they do will have nothing to do with how many preseason games they won.
 
The Indianapolis Colts went 1-3 during the 2006 preseason. The Giants did the same thing in 2007. Both teams went on to win the Super Bowl that year. The Lions went 4-0 during the 2008 preseason and then went on to become the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 in the regular season.
 
Whether the Vikings find success this season will have everything to do with what Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Leslie Frazier et al do in the weeks and months ahead. It will have nothing to do with how Ponder looked this preseason, or how Peterson took zero handoffs this preseason, or how Allen's new quasi-mullet progressed this preseason.
 
Preseason performance is no indication of future results.
 
But can we find any correlation between the Vikings' records in the preseason and how they did during the regular season? I figured it was worth a look back to see if we could glean any meaningful trends or, at worst, coincidences.
 
I dug back through the preseason standings to 2000.
 
 
Minnesota Vikings records
Year
Preseason
Regular season
2012
1-3
10-6
2011
2-2
3-13
2010
3-1
6-10
2009
3-1
12-4
2008
1-3
10-6
2007
2-2
8-8
2006
2-1-1
6-10
2005
3-1
9-7
2004
2-2
8-8
2003
1-3
9-7
2002
2-2
6-10
2001
4-0
5-11
2000
1-3
11-5
 
As you can see, the data reveals just what we expected: no clear correlation between preseason success, or lack thereof, and regular season finish -- with one notable exception.
 
The four times since 2000 that the Vikings have finished the preseason with a 1-3 record, they have gone on to finish with winning records during the regular season. In three of those four seasons they made the playoffs, the lone exception being 2003 when they finished 9-7. Just last year they went 1-3 in the preseason, finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. In 2008 they went 1-3 in the preseason, finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. In 2000 they went 1-3 in the preseason, finished 11-5 and made it to the NFC Championship game -- where they lost 41-donut to the Giants. But hey, at least that's a positive trend… or happenstance.
 
As mentioned, the Giants and Colts have both turned 1-3 preseasons into Super Bowl championships since the turn of the millennium. Let's see how the other Super Bowl champions did in the preseason every year since 2000.
 
 
Preseason records of Super Bowl winners
 
2012
Baltimore Ravens
2-2
2011
New York Giants
2-2
2010
Green Bay Packers
2-2
2009
New Orleans Saints
3-1
2008
Pittsburgh Steelers
3-1
2007
New York Giants
1-3
2006
Indianapolis Colts
1-3
2005
Pittsburgh Steelers
3-1
2004
New England Patriots
1-3
2003
New England Patriots
4-0
2002
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3-1
2001
New England Patriots
3-1
2000
Baltimore Ravens
4-0
 
Only two teams since the turn of the century have turned an undefeated preseason into a Lombardi Trophy – the 2000 Ravens and 2003 Patriots. Five of the last seven Super Bowl champs lost at least two preseason games.
 
However, no team since 2000 has gone 0-4 in the preseason and gone on to win the Super Bowl – a factoid that surely has the Falcons throwing in the towel on the upcoming season and has Vikings fans breathing a sigh of relief due to their one-point win Thursday night.
 
Or not.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

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2014 preseason     
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Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
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Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
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Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
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