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If Luck Is A Lady, She Was Not Dressed In Purple In 2011

Of all the reasons that the Minnesota Vikings should be better than they were in 2011, there is one that is rarely mentioned, but one that can also not be completely discounted.

What is it? How about good, old-fashioned luck.

Yes, I know. . ."the better you are, the luckier you get" and all that other cliched garbage. But, from year-to-year, there are some teams that are undeniably luckier than others. . .and, as a story from our friends over at Blogging the Boys clearly shows, the Minnesota Vikings were not among those teams in 2011.

The story goes into how Bill James, who baseball fans recognize as the king of all stat nerds, developing a formula for looking at the strength of a team based on points scored and points allowed rather than simply looking at win-loss records. This formula was later adapted for the National Football League by a man from STATS, Inc., and is now being used by the folks from Football Outsiders to measure variance as well.

I won't copy-and-paste the whole table from the BtB article, but no team had a greater "negative variance". . .or, to put it another way, worse luck. . .than the Minnesota Vikings did in 2011. (The Miami Dolphins had the same negative variance than the Vikings did.) Based on the formula from the linked article, the Minnesota Vikings should have been a 5 or 6-win team in 2011, but wound up being 3-13 instead.

Now, I'm sure that there have been years where the Vikings were more on the positive end. . .after all, if the Minnesota Vikings are known for anything, it's their amazing stretches of good luck. . .but I think we can all agree that last year the Vikings had some ridiculously bad luck. Just off the top of my head, I can think of

-Being the first team in NFL history to blow double-digit halftime leads in their first three games of the season
-Going nearly ten full games without intercepting a pass
-Registering the longest non-scoring play in NFL history (Percy Harvin's 104-yard kick return against Atlanta)
-Joe Webb moving the Vikings to the 1-yard line against Detroit, only to have his head nearly ripped off by a blatant face mask that the officials didn't feel like calling

Lots of people like to point out that the Vikings lost 13 games in 2011. . .very few people bother pointing out that nine of those 13 losses were by one touchdown or less, with another being by 10 points. Along with all of the other things we've pointed out this off-season so far that should lead to the Vikings being a better team in 2012, their record will be better in 2012 if they simply get a couple of bounces to go their way here and there.