Just as the Vikings and their fans are stunned that they are 1-3 to start the season, so are the Carolina Panthers
. In the dismal NFC South, Carolina's 1-3 record has the Panthers in sole possession of second place in the division. But the bigger question shouldn't be why Carolina is in second place in the division, but why are the Panthers 1-3?
There are some glaring numbers that jump out that can explain the Panthers' record. They have the 24th-ranked offense and 30th-ranked pass offense, but that is offset by Carolina having the third-ranked defense – in the top eight in both rushing and passing.
One of the reasons why coaches and players obsess on game film is that they need to see things for themselves to explain why some teams win and some teams lose. If you look strictly at some of the key stats that are typically indicators of success or failure in the NFL, the Panthers belie all the conventional wisdom for why a team is 1-3 after four games.
Here is a baker's dozen of reasons why the Panthers should be more in line with a 3-1 record as opposed to a 1-3 record.
The Panthers have 90 first downs on offense, while allowing just 71.
They have converted 45.2 percent of third downs on offense, while allowing opponents to convert just 37.3 percent.
Carolina has a five-minute, 40-second advantage in time of possession.
The Panthers have outgained their opponents by an average of 28 yards a game.
They have committed just 20 penalties – an average of five a game. Their opponents have committed 25 penalties, which has resulted in 42 more penalty yards.
They have outscored their opponents 74-58.
They have outscored their opponents 37-9 in the first half of their games.
They have allowed just five touchdowns on defense.
While Cam Newton has struggled with a passer rating of just 78.4, the Panthers defense has allowed opposing QBs to post a passer rating of just 76.4.
The Panthers have had 21 more rushing attempts than their opponents, but have gained 179 more yards than their opponents.
Carolina is averaging 4.4 yards a carry, while their opponents are averaging just 3.6 yards a carry.
The Panthers have scored twice as many receiving touchdowns as they have allowed.
Kicker Graham Gano has allowed only one of his kickoffs to be returned, for 24 yards.
As the Vikings prepare for what they expect to be their second straight win of the season, the Panthers may not be the team that so many think will be the next victim on the Vikings comeback trail.
If games were 59 minutes long, the Vikings would be 3-1. There are multiple reasons to believe the Panthers should be 3-1 as well – perhaps more than the Vikings have.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.