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Bleacher Report – Vikings

How does the ’98 Vikings offense stack up against the ’16 Falcons?

By Matthew Coller

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This year, “defense wins championships” decided to take a vacation as Football Outsiders’ No. 1 and 2 offenses will represent the NFC and AFC, respectively, in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

While the New England Patriots’ offense was terrific again behind Tom Brady, the Atlanta Falcons posted historic numbers, ranking seventh best in NFL history in points per game, tied with the “Greatest Show on Turf,” St. Louis Rams of 2000.

Comparisons have been made between the Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings’ most explosive offensive team in 1998, largely because Julio Jones has turned into a Randy Moss-like deep threat (though nobody will ever be Randy again) and duel-threat running back Devonta Freeman has some Robert Smith in him.

We always tend to lean on things from the past as being the best. Some NBA fans will never let Jordan be the G.O.A.T. because Wilt scored 100 in a game. But if we are speaking objectively, were the ’98 Vikings really better than this year’s Falcons?

Since the NFL has changed since ’98 to push toward more passing and scoring, we can’t simply compare each club’s numbers. That would be unfair to the Vikings, who played with the league where average quarterback rating would get a QB benched real quick these days.

But if we take how far each team was above the league average, we get this:

Points Yards Per Play QB rating Touchdowns Pass Adj Net YPA Rush YPA
1998 averages 340.5 5 76.2 34.5 5.3 4.0
2016 averages 364.4 5.5 87.6 38.4 6.2 4.2
1998 Vikings 556 6.2 101.5 58 7.9 4.3
2016 Falcons 540 6.7 116.8 58 9.0 4.6
1998 Vikings above average
215.5
1.2 25.3 23.5 2.6 0.3
2016 Falcons above average 175.6 1.2 29.2 19.6 2.8 0.4

While the Falcons are farther above average in both rating and Yards Per Attempt (adjusted for interceptions and sacks), the Vikings run away from Atlanta in scoring. Minnesota’s stupidly-talented group was 215 points above an average team, or almost two touchdowns per game.

Now how about the key positions? How did individual years stack up? (All stats from Football Reference)

Quarterback

Most of Ryan’s categories are ahead, but one to notice is Yards Per Completion. Randall Cunningham averaged nearly a yard more per completion than Ryan, whose numbers are all boosted by today’s high completion rates.

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Running backs

Atlanta sports two duel-threat backs who make a serious impact on the passing game, while the ’98 Vikings had a thunder-and-lightning combination of Smith and Leroy Hoard.

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Wide receivers

Julio Jones and Mohammad Sanu:

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Chris Carter and Randy Moss:

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The fact that Moss was a rookie makes these numbers even more impressive. Jones is used more. The No. 2 receiver is a huge advantage for the Vikings.

Atlanta’s offense has been fun to watch and they will present quite a challenge for the Patriots, but side-by-side, they’re not quite the ’98 Vikings.

The post How does the ’98 Vikings offense stack up against the ’16 Falcons? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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