This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings open their home schedule against the Miami Dolphins, a team that I have hated since Larry Csonka ran wild against the Purple People Eaters in Super Bowl VIII. After coming home from New Orleans with an 0-1 record, the chances of the VIkings making the playoffs, speaking historically and statistically (would that be hististically?) are under 50%. What if you start off 0-2? Well, it puts you in a hole that you can dig out of only one time out of ten, approximately. Let's break it down after the jump
Every statistic has an anomaly. For example, if you start 6-0, the chances of you making the playoffs are over 95%...unless you're the 2003 Minnesota 'Nate Poole Game' Vikings, or the 2009 Denver Broncos. But getting off to a slow start makes it very difficult to get to the post season. The exact numbers of 0-1 teams making the playoffs, at least over the last 10 years, is 25%. Twenty...five...percent. So the Vikings already have, statistically speaking, only a 1 in 4 shot of making the playoffs. Just for grins, I looked at the 12 playoff teams from last season: Bengals, Jets, Ravens, Patriots, Colts, and Chargers in the AFC. In the NFC there were the Cowboys, Eagles, Packers, Cardinals, Vikings, and Saints. Of those 12 teams, only two...two...made the playoffs, the Bengals and the Cardinals.
If you start 0-2, the chances of you making the playoffs is 10%. Only 7 out of 69 teams have done it since 2000 But again, there is an anomaly for every statistic. Your 2008 NFC North Champions, the Minnesota Vikings, staggered to an 0-2 start by losing to Green Bay and Indianapolis, but rebounded to go 10-6 and win the division by a game. The 2007 New York Giants started 0-2, and they won the Super Bowl.
Do I think the Vikings will make the playoffs if they win against Miami? Yes, I do. They have a good team, they are better than Miami, and they are at home. It is essential that they get to 2-1 and not only beat Miami, but also the Lions next week. October looks like a brutal schedule, with three road games against the Jets, Packers, and Patriots, and it doesn't get much easier after that.
With only 16 games on the schedule, every game counts. And in the NFL, getting off to a slow start can end a season almost before it begins. The Vikings have an uphill battle, but if any team can do it, I feel it's this one.
Just don't lose Sunday, okay?
Oh, and 0-3? There have been three 0-3 playoff teams since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 teams, the last being the 1998 Buffalo Bills.
If that happens, it's hockey season, baby!!