Despite 0-2 start, Vikings aren't dead yet

The statistics don't favor 0-2 teams making the playoffs, but the Vikings' start is a bit unique with two road division games.

For those who hoped that waking up this morning would have made yesterday's Vikings loss at Chicago merely a bad dream, it doesn't get any better the day after.

It's rare when you can find a ray of sunshine on a dark and cloudy day. There's a reason for that. Sunday blew for the Vikings in the Windy City. By any statistical measure, the Vikings couldn't be in a worse position.

If the 2013 season was to end after two weeks, the Vikings would hold a dubious distinction. They are the only team in the NFL that is not only 0-2, but 0-2 in the conference and 0-2 in their division. By any tie-breaker procedure one might employ, two weeks into the 2013 season the Vikings would hold the first pick in the 2014 draft.

But, it could have been much worse. Through Week 1, there were eight NFC teams that were 1-0. Through Week 2, there are only three remaining undefeated. The Eagles, Cowboys and Giants all lost to teams from the AFC West. Had the Vikings beaten the Bears Sunday, all four teams in the NFC North would have been 1-1. As things stand, the Vikings may be at the bottom of the standings, but not dead in the water at 0-2.

Also at 0-2 are the defending NFC East champion Redskins. The Giants are off to a 0-2 start as well, as are Carolina and Tampa Bay. If misery loves company, the Vikings are far from alone.

While some fans are climbing out on the ledge, the reality of the Vikings' 0-2 start is that they lost two road games. That isn't unusual for any NFL team and certainly not something the Vikings are unaccustomed to. Have they dug themselves a hole early on? No question about that. But they have the opportunity to negate the negatives that they have started the season with because they get Metrodome rematches with both Detroit and Chicago later in the season.

If the Vikings are to make it back to the playoffs, clearly they need to start winning and putting themselves in a 0-2 hole will make that job a lot more difficult. But the reality is that had they lost games during the middle of the season at Detroit and at Chicago – both games in which they were underdogs – there wouldn't be the gnashing of teeth that there currently is. The Vikings didn't get an "upset" win in either of the first two games. Now they have to be prepared to win as favorites, starting this Sunday.

People will spout the rhetoric about teams that start a season 0-2 and how many of them miss the playoffs. Many of those teams finish with 10 losses or more. They wouldn't have been a playoff factor anyway. The Vikings don't believe they are that team, despite what their record would indicate. They've shot themselves in the foot twice, which isn't acceptable in the NFL, but not a death sentence for the 2013 season.

Nothing will get the fans of the Vikings back on the bandwagon quicker than a win Sunday over Cleveland. For now, they're at the bottom looking up at the rest of the NFC, but they're not dead in the water just yet. It's a long season and the Vikings have the talent to get on a winning streak like they did last season when they started 6-6 and made a December run to the playoffs. It's not going to be easy and they're done themselves no favors, but the Vikings are still very much alive, despite what the 0-2 doomsayers will tell you.

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.

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