First and foremost was the home-field factor. By virtue of being division champion, the Vikings had to play the division champion of the NFC South, which was New Orleans. They got the game on the road and got it out of the way first. Through 14 games of Week 1, only three road teams won – next week's opponent Miami at hapless Buffalo, the division rival Packers at Philadelphia and Arizona at woeful St. Louis. In the other 11 games, the home team held serve, leaving a lot of teams like the Vikings on the wrong end of the Week 1 slate.
When you look at all the predictions that have come down in the recent days and weeks about potential Super Bowl champs, the Vikings have been in that discussion and they started 0-1. The Cincinnati Bengals are the defending division champ in the competitive AFC North and they got slammed on the road by the Patriots. A trendy Super Bowl pick by those trying to make a "roll of the dice" September prediction, are the Bengals through after starting 0-1? No. Indianapolis won't have to worry about when to play or sit their starters after getting done by Houston and giving wing to Arian Nation by allowing running back Arian Foster to light them up for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Are the Colts done? When all is said and done, expect them to have their usual 12 wins or more – even though they are currently in sole possession of last place in their division.
The Falcons have been a trendy pick to emerge as the power team in the NFC South and many think they will overtake the Saints, but not if they play like they did at Pittsburgh in Week 1 when they lost 15-9 in overtime. Are they in panic mode? Not likely. San Francisco was everybody's pick to win the NFC West and they got shot, gutted, cooked and served 31-6 by the Seahawks, which I thought was the weakest of the four teams the Vikings played in the preseason. Should the 49ers pack it up in San Fran and call off the season? Nope.
The vaunted Cowboys lost their road opener against Washington in a strange game against the Redskins and many saw Dallas steamrolling to the division title. The Cowboys dug themselves an early hole by dropping a division game out of the gate, but it is far from a given that a Week 1 loss is a crippling blow to the 2010 season.
A couple of teams that stood out were in the same game – for better and worse. The Packers looked awfully good up until Michael Vick freelanced his way back into getting the Eagles close. To hear Aaron Rodgers talk, the Packers stunk out the joint – a scary thought since the Eagles never got to a point where they could win the game with a score. But, a Week 1 home loss to the 2009 playoff-bound Eagles – much less seeing the Kevin Kolb era get detoured two quarters into its reign – has the Packers on track. The way Vick played was, in its own way, was like Randall Cunningham played in 1998 when Brad Johnson got hurt. The team needed an excuse to get him on the field and Kolb's concussion did that. If Vick continues to impress, the Eagles could become a locker room divided – a death knell in the NFL.
Better yet, two Super Bowl picks of many projectors – the Ravens and Jets – will meet tonight and one of them will have to lose. Will that pull the plug on their title hopes? No. So it shouldn't for Vikings fans. Next week is a new week.
The Vikings went 12-4 last year, winning all eight home games and going 4-4 on the road. Nothing about Thursday's loss has changed that same scenario playing out this year. If the Vikings finish 12-4 again, they'll be resting in the first week of the playoffs and starting 0-1 will mean nothing.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.