Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Vikings: Limitations of a dynamic tailback

By Kevin Seifert

We spent most of our week hashing through the minutiae of what might be the NFC North-clinching game Sunday at Soldier Field. But while the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are the primary contenders for the division title, we shouldn't forget that the Minnesota Vikings remain a playoff contender as well.

Along those lines, I wanted to pass along to you a pretty startling juxtaposition between the Vikings' wins and losses. The figures in these charts arose in part from my discussions with Inside Slant podcast partner Mike Sando this week on the value of running backs and quarterbacks in the MVP race.

Mike dug up these figures with help from ESPN Stats & Information. Essentially, they show that tailback Adrian Peterson has been at least as effective and in some cases more productive in the Vikings' six losses than he has been in their seven victories. On the other hand, quarterback Christian Ponder's huge differential in Total Quarterback Rating -- 17.9 in losses and 70.0 in victories -- show how critical his play has been to the Vikings' winning percentage.

This isn't to take anything away from Peterson's season, nor is to blame Ponder single-handedly for the Vikings' six losses. It just shows that in this case, at least, there are limitations in the impact of a dynamic runner relative to the inconsistency of a quarterback.