Believe it or not, we are a little over two months away from getting our first real glimpse of the 2015 Vikings in their preseason opener.
The Vikings, as you surely recall, will be kicking off the preseason against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9. And that means they will get an extra preseason game this year, playing five instead of four.
While an extra game means 60 more minutes during which injuries can occur, the Vikings think the extra preseason game is a good thing. General Manager Rick Spielman said at the scouting combine in February that getting that fifth game will be especially beneficial for young players.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for this team to go down to Mankato a week early and get an opportunity for those guys to play an extra preseason game because mostly you’re going to play your starters minimal at most,” he said. “It I think really aids in their development.”
But how have teams that recently played in the Hall of Fame Game (then four other preseason games) fared in the regular season?
I took a look at the 20 teams that played in the Hall of Fame Game over the past decade. Not many have gone on to have great success that season.
Those teams averaged 7.3 wins. Only four of them made the playoffs, with no one accomplishing that feat since the Colts in 2008. In fact, only one team, the 9-7 Bills last season, has had a winning record since those Colts.
In those teams’ previous seasons, they won an average of 8.4 games. Six teams, including Mike Zimmer’s 2010 Bengals, went from a playoff team the previous season to plummeting out of playoff contention the next.
So recent teams playing that extra preseason game have slipped in the standings by a little more than one win during the ensuing regular season.
Interestingly, the team that saw the biggest drop was those 2010 Bengals, which employed Zimmer as their defensive coordinator. A playoff team in 2009 that won 10 games, they went 4-12 after their five-game preseason.
The biggest risers were the 2005 Bears, going from 5-11 in 2014 to 11-5.
All that being said, I don’t feel comfortable drawing any conclusions about the Vikings playing in the Hall of Fame Game, other than saying there is no guarantee it will propel them to greatness in 2015.
Each of the past 20 teams was unique, with different circumstances leading to their rise of fall. It would be difficult to draw a strong correlation between Hall of Fame Game participation and regular season results.
Spielman is right in thinking the extra game will be beneficial to 2015 draft picks and other youngsters the Vikings are trying to develop. But it remains to be seen if it will pay immediate dividends for the team as a whole.