Not all teams with losing records arrived there equally — a notion that can be a comfort to the Vikings if we look at the numbers one way … but a terrible discomfort another way.
Even after a hideous loss Sunday to Atlanta — their third truly rotten game this year along with three more spirited efforts — they rank No. 17 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
Basically the sum total of everything the Vikings have done on offense, defense and special teams this season should add up to them being around league average, which one would think would yield a record better than 1-5.
If the Vikings don’t turn things around and start winning close games, though, all the algorithms in the world won’t be comforting enough to keep the organization from imploding.
Shorter, in the words of Mike Zimmer’s mentor Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.”
But in that vein, not all 1-5 teams are the same. While any team would be unhappy with that record, some might arrive there more predictably than others. If someone would have said at the start of the year, for instance, that Washington, the Giants or Jaguars would be 1-5 (as they all are) after six games, it would have registered as rather unsurprising.
The Vikings, though, were not expected to be 1-5. And so it is by one measure at least that we can consider them the biggest “bust” in the NFL so far this season.
Per Barnwell’s piece, the Vikings started the year with a 51.3% chance to make the playoffs based on ESPN’s Football Power Index. That seems a little generous based on what I thought of them, but with a seventh playoff team added this season in each conference it’s perhaps reasonable to think it was a coin flip at season’s start.
But now? Their chances are just 5%. And the difference between where they started and where they are now, minus-46.3%, is the biggest gap of any team in the NFL — larger than Dallas, San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta, other teams mentioned in the “bust” category.
The culprits are myriad, and we don’t need to get into specifics in this space because Barnwell and our own Vikings writers have covered that ad nauseam.
All that really matters is that it adds up to major disappointment.