Sunday, October 05, 2008

Must Perform for Childress, Not Must Win for Team

The Minnesota Vikings travel to the Bayou this week for a Monday night match-up against the New Orleans Saints. At 1-3, the Vikings are encroaching upon must-win territory, though, with a game next week against the hapless Lions, at home, and a relatively light schedule for much of the remainder of the season, the team likely can afford to lose a game in which they are road dogs.

What the Vikings, in particular head coach Brad Childress, cannot afford to do in the French Quarter is lay an egg. With winds blowing out of Winter Park that Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf is watching this game intently for signs of surrender, anything less than a competitive showing might signal an abrupt end to Childress' run with the Vikings.

On offense, the Saints have averaged 27.8 points per game this season against opponents allowing an average of 23.35 points per game. On defense, the Saints have allowed 25 points per game to opponents averaging 25.9 points per game. The numbers reveal a plus 4.5-point differential on offense and a plus one-point differential on defense or a plus 5.5 differential overall.

The Vikings, meanwhile, have averaged 17.8 points per game against teams allowing an average of 19.15 points per game. Defensively, the Vikings have allowed 20.5 points per game to teams averaging 22.53 points per game. The numbers reveal a minus 1.5-point differential on offense and a plus 2.5-point differential on defense, or a plus one-point differential overall.

Assuming the averages already account for the homefield advantage, the numbers suggest a tight Saints' victory of 4-5 points, somewhere in the neighborhood of 24-20. That should be close enough of a loss to spare Childress at least until the bye week, but probably not close enough to change any opinions among Vikings' fans about the general direction in which this team is headed.

Up Next: Marching In or Marched On?

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