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So it came to pass that the prodigal son, Randy Moss, who will turn 34 in February, returned to his original NFL destination. He joins Brett Favre, a quarterback who once openly campaigned for the Packers to acquire Moss in 2007. Now on his fourth tour of duty, hopefully Moss has found a place that he can call "home."
But the bigger question remains: what kind of implications will this trade have on New England and Minnesota? Thanks to the WhatIfSports NFL simulation engine, we were able to resimulate each team's season with and without Moss.
Randy on the Patriots - Weeks 5-17 Simulation
Randy may be the Moss, but Bill Belichick proved once again he is the boss.
Moss found himself in the dog house early in the season after holding an impromptu press conference and relaying the message that this would be his last year in New England.
I Hate GoodbyesBrady loses his number one target in New England
It didn't take long for coach B to catch wind of his wide receiver's monologue to the media. The fallout from whatever exchange occurred between head coach and player was blatant in box scores the first four weeks of the season.
In Week 1 versus Cincinnati, Moss had five catches on eight targets for 59 yards with no touchdowns. Week 2, two catches on ten targets for 38 yards and one touchdown. Week 3 against Buffalo, two catches on three targets with two touchdowns. But the ultimate sign that Moss was on borrowed time in New England was this past Monday night game against Miami. Randy was held without a catch for the first time in his Patriots' career and the ball only thrown in his direction once.
Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine played out Weeks 5-17 with Randy Moss as a member of Patriots to see "what-if" the, at times, controversial wide receiver had been able to co-exist with Belichick in the great Northeast.
As the table above indicates, the Pats won 58-percent of their remaining games (each game was "played" 501 times) in the simulation.
The Vikings, before Moss joined the team, finished the rest of the season with essentially an identical record although they averaged fewer points per game in the simulation.
Randy on the Vikings - Weeks 5-17 Simulation
Party FavreFavre adds a down field threat with Moss
What a difference a Moss makes to the Vikings' offense and their success rate moving forward.
Sure, an increase of four percentage points doesn't sound like a drastic swing and neither do 2.1 extra points per game with Randy on the roster. But isn't the NFL where parity reigns supreme? Those percentage points and extras points on the scoreboard each game could mean the difference between the Vikings reaching the playoffs and another off-season wondering if Brett Favre will do that thing again.
Moss is arriving to a deep threat-deprived offense in Minnesota, one which was so desperate for wide-outs that Javon Walker - yes, that Javon Walker - was brought in for a tryout. With star Sidney Rice sidelined with a hip injury, Brett Favre's favorite target has been tight-end Visanthe Shiancoe, who's totaled 169 yards and a touchdown off of 11 receptions. While a solid player in his own right, Shiancoe has never surpassed 600 yards in his eight-year career. If anything, this figure illustrates the frustration and failure thus far of the Minnesota aerial attack.
Vikings Win Percentage - Next 4 Games
|Team||W/O Moss||W/ Moss|
The Vikings' winning percentage over the next four games received a jolt following the acquisition of Moss. Though impressive, Moss to the Vikings only accounts for one extra simulation "win" (win percentage greater than 50-percent vs Opponent) over the next 13 weeks.
As expected the Patriots winning percentage and points per game take a dip without Moss in their line-up. However, what you will have to keep an eye out for in upcoming NFL simulation predictions and fantasy projections is how the departure of Moss affects the likes of tight end Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Brandon Tate who will most likely assume the role of the second WR behind Wes Welker. If Hernandez and Tate, as a tandem, can out-perform Moss, then the Patriots offensive numbers and win percentage may get a boost, but for now their future production is speculation.
As for individual statistics, the simulation engine projects Randy Moss to collect 895 yards and 6 touchdowns for Minnesota the rest of the way.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.