Sunday, October 08, 2006

EPT Spells WIN for Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings continue to hold their opponents to fewer points than expected per yardage allowed and the offense continues to put up impressive yardage statistics for what can most positively be referred to as a conservative offense.

What Minnesota has not done well, however, is what matters most. In each of the team's games this season, the Vikings have been held to less than their expected point total (EPT). In weeks one through three the trend was understandable as the Vikings were facing three of the NFL's better defenses.

In week four, however, the Vikings faced a Buffalo Bill's team that had allowed 28 points in a home loss to the New York Jets in week three. What's most maddening is that the Jets exceeded their EPT against Buffalo by 10 points. The Vikings, meanwhile, were able to convert 330 yards of offense into a mere 12 points--nearly half of their EPT.

Purple and Blue Sunday

To date, the Vikings' defense has been four points better than its EPT would suggest, allowing 16 points per game for every 290 yards of offense it has allowed. Unfortunately, the Vikings' offense has squandered the defense's efforts, scoring a meager 16 points for every 325 yards of offense.

On Sunday, the Vikings face a Detroit Lions' team that has averaged 18 points per 325 yards of offense--four points less than their EPT. The Lions' defense has yielded 29 points per every 370 yards of offense--three points more than the EPT.

With safety Kenoy Kennedy officially out for Sunday's game, this should be an opporutnity for the Vikings' receivers to rediscover the catch. And that would, could, and should help the Vikings' running game, which, in turn should help the passing game...

With the Vikings' scoring four below their EPT and the Lions yielding three above the EPT for their defense, Minnesota should expect to score within one of their EPT. Detroit is getting crushed through the air, but has been tight against the run. If Minnesota can exploit Detroit's secondary weaknesses, they should be able to put up 350 yards of offense. The combined EPTs of Minnesota's offense and Detroit's defense would thus yield 23 points for the Vikings.

The Vikings have been pretty tough against both the run and the pass, though more susceptible to the pass, particularly when the pass is thrown the way of Fred Smoot. Still, the Lions are having similar problems to the Vikings' on offense. With a minus four EPT and 325 yards of offense per game, the Lions EPT against Minnesota on Sunday is 19.

Prediction: Minnesota 23 over Lions 19.

Up Next: Post Game.

2 comments:

btstoll said...

When do you think we will cut our losses with Smoot?

Vikes Geek said...

BTStoll,

Probably not this year. The Vikings don't have a reliable backup to take his place right now and with pre-season injuries already are a bit thin in the secondary. The alternatives are too Serwanga-like to justify such a move, even as poorly as Smoot has played.

On the other hand, if the Vikings fall off of the playoff radar it would make sense for the team to cut ties with Smoot this year if he continues to play so poorly. Cutting him this year would accelerate Smoot's bonus and clear his salary from the Vikings' cap number in 2007. That, of course, presumes that the Vikings have the space left under their 2006 cap to make such a move. And after signing Hutchinson and others the past off-season, the Vikings were pretty close to their cap ceiling for 2006.

Smoot's play on the field and his general character flaws make him a target to be cut sometime in the future. When that future arrives, however, will depend on the emergence of players that appear presently not to be on the roster, the Vikings' continuing relevance as a playoff contender, and the Vikings' cap numbers.

VG