Why will the 2013 Vikings regress? One of reasons is the same one behind Barnwell's optimism about the 2012 team. NFL teams, over time, win about half of their close games. (The best teams have more big wins; the worst teams get blown out a lot.) The 2011 squad went 2-9 in close games. In 2012, that number changed to 5-1, in no small part due to historic performances by Adrian Peterson and Blair Walsh. But the problem with historic performances is that they are rare and even more rare to repeat. All six of the running backs with 2000 yard seasons did not fare as well the following year. If Peterson returns to his (stellar) career yards per carry, then he won't hit 2000 yards. As Barnwell says, "To have a sustained stretch this great, everything has to go right, and it's too hard to get that to happen over and over again."
Fortunately, Barnwell highlights some hope for the much-maligned Christian Ponder. During the first half of the season, Ponder completed 65.3% of his passes for 6.7 yards per attempt, 10 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. In the second half, his numbers were a dismal 58.4%, 5.4 yards per attempt, 8 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Barnwell points to Ponder understandably struggling with starting wideouts Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson. If the signing of Greg Jennings and drafting of Cordarelle Patterson can give Ponder some needed weapons, Ponder should be closer to his performance in the first half of 2012.