Every Wednesday morning, beat writer Matt Vensel will share five Vikings stats that actually mean something heading into that weekend’s game.
13 — special-teams touchdowns for the Vikings since 2011
Since Mike Priefer was hired as special teams coordinator in 2011, no team has produced more touchdowns in that phase than the Vikings. Entering this season, the Vikings and the Eagles, Sunday’s opponent, were tied for the league lead with 11 special-teams touchdown over that five-year span. This season, the Eagles are the only NFL team to take a kickoff return to the house. But thanks to two punt return touchdowns by cornerback Marcus Sherels, including one in the Week 5 victory over the Texans, the Vikings have the slight scoring edge on special teams since 2011.
7 — touchdowns allowed by the Vikings D in 11 red-zone trips
The Vikings defense is at or near the top of the league in most important statistical categories — including points allowed, yards surrendered, sacks and takeaways. But one area that has been an issue is red-zone defense. Their opponents have advanced inside their 20-yard line only 11 times in five games. The Cardinals and Ravens are the only two teams in the league allowing fewer red-zone trips per game. But the Vikings have allowed touchdowns on seven of those possessions. That 63.6 red-zone touchdown percentage ranks 22nd in the NFL, according to TeamRankings.com.
108.6 — Sam Bradford’s passer rating in 2016 when pressured
As I noted after the Vikings traded for Bradford in September, the veteran quarterback had historically struggled in the face of pressure in his NFL career, though he did show improvement last season with the Eagles. In his first four starts for the Vikings, pressure has not rattled him. Bradford has completed 65 percent of his throws when under pressure for 263 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus. His 6.6 yards-per-attempt average on those plays could be better, but the important thing is Bradford has avoided back-breaking mistakes.
6 — pass break-ups by Eric Kendricks in five games this season
Kendricks, the second-year middle linebacker, batted down a pair of passes in the win over the Texans, giving him six pass break-ups on the season, including his game-changing pick-six in the season opener. That not only leads the Vikings, but that is the most in the league by a non-defensive back. Kendricks has made a play on the ball 13.3 percent of the time he has been attacked in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. That is third among NFL linebackers. Philadelphia’s Jordan Hicks leads the league there.
39.9 — Jeff Locke’s net punting average, the best of his career
Locke has been a pleasant surprise for the Vikings after his net punting average dipped in each of the past two seasons. After a career low of 37.8 net yards per punt last season, Locke is on pace for a career high at 39.9. His net punting average would likely be even better if he was not punting from midfield so often. But he has been really good at pinning opponents deep, doing it 13 times already. His inside-the-20 average of 46.4 percent would blow away his previous career high if he can keep it going.