You’ve heard it said that there are few things in life that we can know for a 100% certainty. Things like the sun setting in the west; the whole thing about life, death and taxes. Those are things that we know for sure.
Might I suggest we add that the Minnesota Vikings will make the NFL Playoffs in 2021 to that list?
Sure it might seem foolish to throw something as trivial and unpredictable on the table with the other certainties that we live out lives by…but is it really?
Since taking over as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings back in 2014, Mike Zimmer has an overall winning record at 64-47 (.576). That’s admirable and has allowed him to retain a job in one of the most competitive industries for seven years and counting. But digging into the numbers a little bit, there is a definite trend that has formed and it comes with a frequency of every-other year.
Generally speaking, Mike Zimmer’s Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs every-other year. Well, actually that’s not a generality, that’s actually what his teams have done.
In seasons that begin the year with a calendar year that ends with an even number, Mike Zimmer’s teams struggle. In years that end in an odd number, Zimmer’s Vikings make the playoffs and have considerably better on field success.
In fact, when you break down the numbers to see how this plays out, here’s what you get.
In even seasons where the Vikings miss the playoffs, Mike Zimmer has posted an overall record of 30-33. That’s a below .500 win percentage at .476 and an average of 7.5 wins per season. On offense the team posts an average ranking just above 18th in the league in points scored. On defense, Zimmer’s forte, the struggle years saw the Vikings rank right around 13th in the league.
For the odd numbered seasons where the Vikings have made the playoffs each of the three times, Coach Zimmer has a winning record of 34-14, a dynamic winning percentage of .708. The offense has seen success with an average ranking of 11th for points scored and the defense has dominated ranking inside the top-3 for points allowed.
So while the excitement is building with the fan base following the restructure of Danielle Hunter’s contract and the signing of Sheldon Richardson, we can couple that with the optimism that Aaron Rodgers might be out of Green Bay, and all of the sudden fans are REALLY EXCITED about the Minnesota Vikings this season.
Double down on your bets as well because it’s an odd yeared season and based on what we discussed earlier, that means good news for the Vikings in 2021!
But, if we were to dig a little deeper into this trend, 2021 might actually end up being REALLY GOOD for the Mike Zimmer and The Purple.
When looking at most of the even seasons, the bad seasons, under Mike Zimmer we can see some trends. The losses came at the hands of decent defenses paired up with bad offenses. That leads to a juxtaposition on the field with only one side of the football holding their own. That leads to lop-sided time of possession, it leads to frustratingly changing game plans and in do so forcing a square peg into a round hole most of the time.
But 2020 was a little different.
Yes the defense was historically bad, ranking 29th in the league for points allowed per game, there were some reasons to that. There wasn’t much depth, there was a lot of youth, there were COVID opt-outs, there were season ending injuries at key spots; all of those things factored in to the 475 points allowed on the season. With a new draft class, new free agents, veteran leadership, returns from injuries and more, the vibe is pretty optimistic on this defense right now.
But the biggest thing to note is on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite the losing record and missing the playoffs, the Vikings offense was not bad in 2020. Kirk had what might be the best season of his career, Dalvin Cook is a bonified top-flight running back, Justin Jefferson burst onto the scene as a dynamic threat and Adam Thielen continues to play at a very high level. I don’t care what Darrisaw and Davis can do as rookies, the offensive line cannot possibly be worse than they were last year.
So if the defense bounces back and the offense holds suit, this Vikings team could be REALLY exciting for Minnesota fans.
There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic for this team right now, but man I tell ya, this could turn into something really special if it all lines up come the regular season.