Vikings could become all-time best running team

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 01, 2007



With four weeks to go, the Vikings are chasing two things: a playoff spot and a place in NFL history as the greatest running team of all time.
 
Minnesota averages 5.629 YPA through 12 games, a number that would rank them No. 3 all time  - about 4 inches per carry behind the all-time leading 1963 Browns (5.737 YPA).
 
Based on their current pace of 31.4 carries per game, the Vikings need to average 6.15 YPA over their final four contests to get past Cleveland for No. 1 all time. They averaged 5.54 YPA in their win over Detroit yesterday (39 for 216).
 
Here's who the Vikings face to close things out:
  • San Francisco (3.8 YPA allowed)
  • Chicago (4.5 YPA allowed)
  • Washington (3.9 YPA allowed)
  • Denver (4.7 YPA allowed)
Interestingly, the Vikings also boast one of the great run defenses of the Super Bowl Era. The 2007 Vikings allow 2.99 yards per rush attempt (283 for 846), which would make the Vikings one of the Top 5 run defenses of the Super Bowl Era (see the complete list here), a couple spots behind the 2006 Vikings (2.83 YPA allowed). But Minnesota doesn't even have the best run defense of 2007. That honor belongs to the 4-7 Ravens, who allow 2.76 YPA. So much for "great teams stop the run."
 
Below is a list of the 31 teams that averaged more than 5.0 YPA over the course of a season, dating back to 1934, the first year that this data is available.
 
Click here for a complete wrap-up of the topic. The one big thing that jumps out from this list is that few of these teams, like the 2007 Vikings (now 6-6) were particularly dominant. Only 13 of the 31 teams on the list made the playoffs, just one won an NFL championship and two won AFL championships.
 
By contrast, the great passing teams have been far more successful than the great running teams. 
 
 
GREATEST GROUND ATTACKS in NFL history (by average per attempt)
 
Team
Record
Att.
Yards
Avg.
1
1963 Browns
10-4
460
2639
5.737
2
1954 49ers
7-4-1
442
2498
5.652
 
2007 Vikings
6-6
   377   
2122
5.629
3
1963 Chargers (AFL)
11-3 (won AFL Title)
395
2201
5.572
4
1997 Lions
9-7 (lost WC)
447
2464
5.512
5
2006 Falcons
7-9
537
2939
5.473
6
1958 Browns
9-3 (lost div. playoff)
475
2526
5.318
7
2002 Vikings
6-10
473
2507
5.300
8
1984 Rams
10-6 (lost WC)
541
2864
5.294
9
1990 Lions
6-10
366
1927
5.265
10
1966 Browns
9-5
415
2166
5.219
11
1951 Rams
8-4 (won NFL title)
426
2210
5.188
12
1998 49ers
12-4 (lost div. playoff)
491
2544
5.181
13
1956 Rams
4-8
384
1978
5.151
14
2002 Chiefs
8-8
462
2378
5.147
15
2003 Chargers
4-12
417
2146
5.146
16
1994 Lions
9-7 (lost WC)
406
2080
5.123
17
1973 Bills
9-5
605
3088
5.104
18
2004 Falcons
11-5 (lost NFC title)
524
2672
5.099
19
1956 Colts
5-7
432
2202
5.097
20
1966 Chiefs (AFL)
11-2-1 (lost SB)
448
2274
5.076
21
1972 Steelers
11-3 (lost AFC title)
497
2520
5.070
22
1975 Bills
8-6
588
2974
5.058
23
2003 Packers
10-6 (lost. div. playoff)
507
2558
5.045
24
1953 Rams
8-3-1
426
2148
5.042
25
1960 Browns
8-3-1
383
1930
5.039
26
1953 49ers
9-3
443
2230
5.034
27
1985 Colts
5-11
485
2439
5.029
28
1958 Rams
8-4
345
1734
5.026
29
1962 Texans (AFL)
11-3 (won AFL title)
479
2407
5.025
30
1934 Bears
13-0 (lost NFL title)
567
2847
5.021
31
1999 49ers
4-12
418
2095
5.012
 

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