Vikings Far From Buried

The new-look Vikings can't be too desperate in the new-look NFC North. More difficult schedules for the contenders in the months ahead mean the Vikings are still very much in the thick of the race.

With the Vikings on their bye week with an anemic 1-3 record, fans are scratching their heads and wondering why things have gone so wrong. With injuries and changes both in the starting lineup and coaching staff, the Vikings look like a team in desperation. But they really shouldn't be.

The fact of the matter is that when Detroit went on its bye, it moved into first place simply by not playing. The same was true with the Bears, who got into a first place tie with the Lions while they were on their bye week. Is it the Vikings turn this week? Quite possibly.

The Bears have arguably had what many thought would be the easiest part of their schedule already behind them. When they face the Vikings Oct. 16, they may be modest favorites. But after that, they may only be favored in two more games the rest of the way. The same is true for the Lions, who again look to be a team on the brink of collapse. Finally, there's Green Bay. The Packers have made all their games exciting, but have lost three games by a total of six points. Close doesn't count in the NFL – a 32-29 score counts the same as a 37-0 beatdown.

The truth is that the Vikings at worst will come out of the bye one game behind the Bears and play Chicago in Week 6. A win there and guess what? At the very worst, the Vikings will be tied for first place. At best, they could be alone atop the division with a 2-3 record. Welcome to the new-look NFC North.

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