This comes from a story that came out a while back, but I had forgotten about it until just now.
A site called Football Perspective took a look at which teams in the National Football League spent the most time leading, trailing, and with the score tied over the course of the 2012 season. The team that spent the most time in the lead was not surprising. . .it was the New England Patriots, who spent 65.2% of all the time they played in the 2012 regular season with a bigger score than their opponents.
The team that found themselves in second place in that category was surprising. . .it was our favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings led their opponents in 2012 for 58.7% of the time that they were on the field during the 2012 season. They also spent the least amount of time tied, and less time trailing than all but six teams this past season, all of whom made the playoffs. To contrast that, the team that had the lowest percentage of time led was the Kansas City Chiefs, who had a lead for only 10.9% of the time they played in the 2012 NFL season. Sort of explains how they wound up with the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
As the article explains, this is why the Vikings (as well as teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers) can get away with the type of run-heavy offenses that they use. They spent a lot of time last season in the lead, so they were attempting to shorten games with the rushing attack. Of course, it helps that all three of those teams have some really talented running backs to give the football to as well.
In the case of the Vikings, it was really key for them to get out of the blocks early. . .as the article points out, in nine of the Vikings' ten victories in 2012, the purple held the lead for at least 45 minutes. (The lone exception to that was the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.)
This sort of connects to the article I put up just a little bit ago about Adrian Peterson's chances at a second consecutive 2,000-yard rushing season. If the Vikings can continue to get out to leads and play from ahead like they did in 2012, then Peterson's chances should increase, and he will have a greater likelihood of achieving that mark. If they can't, then Peterson's opportunities will, in all likelihood, be lessened.
The ability to get and hold onto the lead is also coupled with the team's ability to hang on to the football. Obviously, if the Vikings can hold on to the football, their opponents will have fewer chances to score and should score fewer points. The Vikings need to keep their trend from 2012 going in that regard, too, and that goes back to a number that we repeated so many times last season that you can probably still sing along with it now.
-In games where the Vikings were even or better in turnover ratio, their record was 10-0.
-In games where the Vikings were in the negative in turnover ratio, their record was 0-7 (including the playoffs).
Many people, myself included, expect to see a much more balanced offensive attack from the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 than they had in 2012. If they can follow the same formulas that they did in 2012, there's a very good likelihood that they will have at least the same level of success that they did last season. . .if not greater.