2013 Minnesota Vikings Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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2013 Minnesota Vikings Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The above is the enduring image of the Minnesota Vikings' 2012 season: superstar tailback Adrian Peterson rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns by force of pure will and talent.

Peterson cemented his place in history with a historic season; he cemented his place in football legend less than a year removed from blowing out his ACL.

Though Peterson blasted through opposing defensive lines, shook would-be tacklers and sprinted past secondaries, the photo captures something else: how ineffective his passing-game teammates were in support.

Christian Ponder, Percy Harvin and company mustered just 2,751 yards as a unit and ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yardage. Ponder did an adequate job of dumping off passes to his hot reads and checkdowns but made very few plays.

Ponder's anemic 6.1 put him 31st out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks in raw average yards per attempt, according to Pro Football Reference. He was also dead last in average yards per completion with just 9.8.

Nobody in the NFL was throwing it shorter than Christian Ponder.

Even so, Adrian Prometheus—er, Peterson—led the Vikings to a 14th-best 23.7 points per game. On defense, the Vikings' line and cornerback pair held opponents to a 14th-best 21.8 points per game. Their 1.9 average point differential gave them 8.8 Pythagorean wins, so their 10-6 record was probably a little better than their true performance.

The Vikings also suffered significant personnel losses. After trading away top receiver Percy Harvin, the Vikings blew much of their free-agent budget by pilfering wideout Greg Jennings away from the rival Green Bay Packers.

Even if Jennings is a 1:1 replacement for Harvin, the Vikings lost top corner Antoine Winfield, linebacker Jasper Brinkley and guard Geoff Schwartz. Their other key free-agent addition was signing quarterback Matt Cassell to back up—or possibly push—Ponder.

All told, the Vikings are going to have their work cut out for them to stay in the upper half of the division...or even to avoid returning to its basement.

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