Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

The worst thing about statistics in sports is that they can be bent, warped and cherry-picked to enhance just about any side of an argument.

Best thing about statistics in sports is that, when used properly, they reinforce what appears evident on a field of play.

As such, I found five stats that hopefully fall into the latter category — where your eyes are not deceiving you, and indeed the numbers back up the feelings.

1 — The Vikings struggle on second and long and run a lot on that distance: On Tuesday’s Daily Delivery podcast, Andrew Krammer and I talked about the Vikings’ inability to get Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen the ball. Part of that seems predicated on stubbornness, which shows up on second down.

The worst thing about statistics in sports is that they can be bent, warped and cherry-picked to enhance just about any side of an argument.

Best thing about statistics in sports is that, when used properly, they reinforce what appears evident on a field of play.

As such, I found five stats that hopefully fall into the latter category — where your eyes are not deceiving you, and indeed the numbers back up the feelings.

1 — The Vikings struggle on second and long and run a lot on that distance: On Tuesday’s Daily Delivery podcast, Andrew Krammer and I talked about the Vikings’ inability to get Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen the ball. Part of that seems predicated on stubbornness, which shows up on second down.

Per Sharp Football, on 2nd and 8 or longer, the Vikings have run the ball 39% of the time this season — the third-highest rate in the NFL. And they have had successful plays — either a first down or enough yards to make it third and short — on just 34% of those second-and-8+ yard plays. That puts them in a lot of long third downs, contributing to their 35.7% conversion rate (25th in the league).

2 — The Gophers can’t pass the ball. This one is pretty obvious if you watch the games, and again it’s something Randy Johnson and I talked about on Tuesday’s show. At 154.6 yards per game, the Gophers rank 122 out of 130 FBS teams in passing yards. The question all year has been whether the Gophers could throw when they had to. That answer seems to be no; now the new question is whether they will need to throw much to beat Iowa and Wisconsin, who also have lackluster passing games.

The worst thing about statistics in sports is that they can be bent, warped and cherry-picked to enhance just about any side of an argument.

Best thing about statistics in sports is that, when used properly, they reinforce what appears evident on a field of play.

As such, I found five stats that hopefully fall into the latter category — where your eyes are not deceiving you, and indeed the numbers back up the feelings.

1 — The Vikings struggle on second and long and run a lot on that distance: On Tuesday’s Daily Delivery podcast, Andrew Krammer and I talked about the Vikings’ inability to get Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen the ball. Part of that seems predicated on stubbornness, which shows up on second down.

Per Sharp Football, on 2nd and 8 or longer, the Vikings have run the ball 39% of the time this season — the third-highest rate in the NFL. And they have had successful plays — either a first down or enough yards to make it third and short — on just 34% of those second-and-8+ yard plays. That puts them in a lot of long third downs, contributing to their 35.7% conversion rate (25th in the league).

2 — The Gophers can’t pass the ball. This one is pretty obvious if you watch the games, and again it’s something Randy Johnson and I talked about on Tuesday’s show. At 154.6 yards per game, the Gophers rank 122 out of 130 FBS teams in passing yards. The question all year has been whether the Gophers could throw when they had to. That answer seems to be no; now the new question is whether they will need to throw much to beat Iowa and Wisconsin, who also have lackluster passing games.

3 — Marcus Foligno shoots to score. The Wild forward has four goals on just 13 shots this season. Last year, Foligno scored 11 times on just 40 shots. Combined, that’s 15 goals on 53 shots, about 28.3%. The NHL average this season? 9.4%. Foligno is three times better than average since the start of last season.

4 — The Wolves are failing when it matters most. As much as the Timberwolves have been improved overall on defense this year, with the No. 11 defensive rating in the NBA, they are still deficient when it matters most. Their defensive rating in the fourth quarter of games is 118.9, third-worst in the league. Combined with their paltry 87.7 offensive rating (second-worst) in the fourth quarter, they easily have the worst net rating (-31.2).

5 — The Twins starting pitching is incredibly thin right now. The five-man rotation that began 2021 for the Twins had made a combined 779 starts. The two men you can pencil into the 2022 rotation — Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan — have made 25. That number will grow once the rotation expands, but the rotation won’t be nearly as experienced. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, given how last year went.

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