Once a week, usually on Wednesday, beat writer Matt Vensel will share five Vikings stats that actually mean something for the team that week.
17 — sacks for Vikings defensive linemen in 2016, a league high
The Vikings are tied with the Broncos for the NFL lead in sacks with 19. Most of them have come from their front four. Their defensive linemen have combined for 17 sacks, tops in the league for that position group, according to Vikings PR. After defensive end Brian Robison had a pair in the win over the Texans, the Vikings now have four defensive linemen with at least three sacks — Robison, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph. Their D-linemen are also tied for the league lead amongst their peers with 17 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.
3.5 — yards per play on first-down plays for opposing offenses
One key factor in the defensive linemen’s sack surge is that the Vikings are getting a lot of opportunities to rush the passer. Their play on first down has been allowing them to wreak havoc on third down. The Vikings are only allowing 3.5 yards per play on first down, which is tops in the NFL.
18.9 — passer rating for opposing quarterbacks on deep passes
Quarterbacks have not had much luck when trying to attack the Vikings defense deep down the field. In five games, they have attempted passes that traveled 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage 19 times. They have completed only five of them and the Vikings picked off three of those deep passes. Opponents have an 18.9 quarterback rating when chucking it up deep, according to Vikings PR. That’s the lowest rating in the league.
152 — straight passes without an interception for Sam Bradford
Bradford is far from an interception machine in the same vein of, say, Eli Manning. But he has thrown his fair share of picks since joining the league in 2010. He threw double-digit interceptions in three of his first five seasons and last year in Philadelphia he had five multi-interception games. But Bradford has thrown 125 passes in his first four starts with the Vikings and none have been intercepted. That makes it 152 straight throws without an interception dating back to last season. If Bradford does not give the ball away on any of his next 18 throws, he will establish a new career best when it comes to avoiding interceptions, according to Vikings PR.
80 — percentage of throws for Bradford that were out of the gun
As I wrote earlier this week, the Vikings appear to have found something with the shotgun spread offense. But exactly how often have they been throwing out of the shotgun? A staggering 80 percent of Bradford’s 125 passes, according to Pro Football Reference. All six of his touchdown passes have come from out of the gun and he has a 112.0 passer rating from that formation. And the quick-hitting throws from the shotgun have helped out the banged-up offensive line, too, as Bradford is averaging 2.37 seconds per dropback, third-fastest in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.