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-19: A brief study of the Vikings point differential

The much publicized number gets a breakdown

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills
Does Greg “The Leg” Joesph actually have the leg the Vikings need?
Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Much has been made of the Minnesota Vikings’ -19 point differential this year, and for good reason; They are an extreme statistical outlier, being the only 12-4 team in the history of the NFL to have a negative point differential.

As a matter of fact, the next lowest point differential, held by the 2016 Oakland Raiders, is 31 points... 50 points above the Vikings.

If we look at the point differential by quarter (and overtime), we can notice some trends, many will be familiar.

Vikings Point Differential By Quarter

Taken on overall face value, the Vikings are well below average in the first half, horrendous in the 3rd, and world-beaters in the 4th. Those 6 OT points also represent 2 different game-winning field goals.

Just at US Bank Stadium, the Vikings are slightly better in the first half, nonexistent in the 3rd, and still extremely good in the 4th.

Vikings Home Point Differential Breakdown

After week 10 at Buffalo, every Vikings fan, pundit, and analyst praised the Vikings for their ability to win a ‘prove-it’ game on the road.

Looking at point differential, however, this Vikings team is noticeably worse away from home. Since the Buffalo game, the Vikes have lost both of their away games (@ DET, @ GB) decisively. Neither was close.

Away from home, the Vikings are well below average in the 1st quarter, horrendous in the 2nd (almost as bad as 3rd quarters at home, which says something), still below average in the 3rd, and relatively ok in the 4th.

Vikings’ Road Point Differential Breakdown

While the purple and gold should stem this trend with an expected win against the lowly Bears in Chicago, those two losses should illustrate just how important it was for this team to get a 1 or 2 seed in the NFC. Now being likely to finish with the NFC’s 3 seed, trips to Philadelphia and/or San Francisco look a lot tougher than playing one of them at home.

What might be surprising is that the Vikings have scored more touchdowns than their opponents this year by a 46-42 margin.

Where are those opponents getting all those points then?

Even though Greg Joseph has arguably been more clutch than nearly all past Vikings kickers this year (see; weeks 4, 9, 10, 15, 16), his kicking game has still been consistently worse than his opponent’s.

Joseph has been 23/30 on FG’s this year compared with 38/42 for his opponents. Joseph also leads the league in missed XP’s with 5, every Vikings fan’s favorite stat.

Opponents have scored 45 more points than the Vikings on field goals alone (Joseph misses account for ~9 of those points, given an equal-to-opposition FG %), with another 5 points due to those missed XPs.

Even more damning on Joseph is that he is 2/8 from 50-59 yards out while having an indoor stadium at his disposal. That kind of kicking should give Vikings fans no hope that the kicker carousel is done spinning for this team.

Yet, with a boom-or-bust offense and a sputtering defense, as well as some timely kicks, it makes sense that Joseph is avoiding some blame.

The kicker has seemingly always been our fanbase’s go-to scapegoat for years, just ask Daniel Carlson, Blair Walsh, or Kai Forbath. Something must really be weird if we can have a kicking game this bad, yet be (mostly) avoiding Vikings-branded pitchforks and torches.