Vikings facing long playoff odds head-on

The Vikings know the playoff odds don't favor a team that starts 0-2, but they are talking through their problems and hoping history will repeat itself.

Eight teams in the NFL are 2-0, giving them a lead in the marathon toward the playoffs, but the 1-1 teams, and even the 0-2 teams, aren't dead yet.

Since realignment in 2002, 79 of the 132 playoff teams (58.8 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens last year.

However, the task obviously gets more daunting now that the Minnesota Vikings have fallen to 0-2 after a 31-30 loss to the Chicago Bears, who scored a touchdown with 10 seconds left to win the game.

"These, they definitely stay with you. It's a tough loss. It will be a tough one to get over, but we'll get over it," Frazier said after that loss. "We have another coming up, so we'll take a look at the tape, take a look at what transpired and we've got to be able to put it behind us. We will. We'll put it behind us, but it was definitely a difficult loss."

It was the second straight road loss against an NFC North team, which will make it even more difficult for the Vikings to get into the playoffs by winning the division or using their NFC record to help in tie-breakers.

Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, 186 teams have started a season 0-2. Just 22 of those teams made the playoffs, or 11.8 percent.

"We're a resilient group. We've got a lot of veteran guys in here, and we've just got to keep trucking, man. It's a long season, 14 games left," Cook said. "It can be all uphill from now. It can all go downhill. I'm definitely, definitely sure that we're going to go uphill from here."

But over the last four seasons a 0-2 start has meant no postseason for those teams.

Last year, none of the six 0-2 teams made the playoffs. In 2011, none of the seven 0-2 teams made it. In 2010, none of the eight 0-2 teams were part of the postseason. And in 2009, none of the nine 0-2 teams made it.

The Vikings were part of the last grouping of 0-2 teams to make the playoffs back in 2008. That's when 11 teams started 0-2 and three of them – Minnesota, Miami and San Diego – recovered enough to make the playoffs.

"It's nice to know you're the last team to do that, but you can't look ahead and say we're just going to do it or the past is going to repeat itself," Greenway said. "You have to put the work in and make the plays on Sunday. We're doing the right things during the week. Now on Sunday, when it comes down to crunch time, make the plays when they come to you."

The last team to start 0-2 and make it to the Super Bowl was the
New York Giants in 2007, who shocked Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game and then ended the New England Patriots' hopes for a perfect postseason to complement their perfect regular season.

"This is the National Football League. This is what you do," Frazier said minutes after swallowing the Vikings' second loss of the season. "There are going to be some ups and downs, some back and forths. You've got to deal with adversity; you've got to overcome adversity and our guys have shown that they can do that on the road."

While none of the 30 teams to start the season 0-2 over the last four years have made the playoffs, two of them have gotten back to .500 – the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers.

It's not impossible. The NFC has only three teams – the Bears, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks – that are 2-0.

Greenway said the players are beginning to rally in the face of early adversity.

"I think just as a group we've done it, just from the stand point of guys just trying to come together and talk through stuff that's going on and communicating the errors rather than just sweeping them under the rug," he said. "We've been up front. A lot of us have been together for a long time. There's clarity with what's going on. We just have to go out there and perform."

Frazier is hoping his team can rebound from the slow start and save the season with the same effort but more success than they have had trying to win games.

"They showed that they are a resilient group, they'll battle," Frazier said. "So that's part of it, it's the NFL."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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