Must-Win For Vikes Today?

With veteran Kelly Holcomb expected to get his first start as a Viking today, he leads a team that might find itself in critical need of a road win to keep themselves in solid position in the NFC North race. Seeing what's on the horizon, every win they can get between now and Halloween will be critical.

It may be too early in the season to call today's game with the Chiefs a "must win" for the Vikings. If you ask players, they would probably view every game as a must-win affair, but with the layout of the Vikings' schedule, it would appear critical that getting a win today is a must.

For starters, the Vikings are catching the Chiefs at a good time. Running back Larry Johnson held out of training camp and hasn't been the same back he was last year when he ran for almost 1,800 yards. He has less than 100 after two games and the Chiefs offense has been out of sync in each of the first two games.

That, combined with a bye week that arrives following the home game with the Packers Sept. 30, and the Vikings find themselves in a position to control a lot of their own fate heading into the bye. Coming out of the bye could be a very different story.

After the bye in Week 5, the Vikings' next four games will be against 2006 playoff teams – the Bears, Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers. Three of them were division champions and two of them had the best record in their respective conferences. It is likely the Vikings won't be favored to win any of those games. If the team is at 2-2 or 1-3 heading into the bye week, the 2007 season could take a nosedive in a hurry. If the team can be 3-1 heading into the bye, they could absorb the rough stretch of games and, with just one win, would be at 4-3 heading into a portion of the schedule that would have just one 2006 playoff team (the Bears) in the final nine games.

While it is too early to start viewing one game as season-changing, a case can be made that the Vikings might need a win in a hostile environment more this week than just about any game this season. A loss could be the start of a downward spiral, whereas a win could propel the Vikings back into the discussion of playoff contenders in the NFC.

* The Vikings and Chiefs have combined to score just three offensive touchdowns in their first two games.
* Last year the Vikings defense had just 30 sacks – an average of less than two per game. Through two games, the 2007 Vikings have 10 sacks, which ties them with the Steelers and former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
* The Vikings defense has seven takeaways. Only the Lions (8) have more through two games.
* In their first two games, the Chiefs have allowed opponents into the red zone four times and only allowed one of the drives to end in a touchdown.
* For a couple of teams that pride themselves with a run-first offense, the Vikings rank 24th in the league in time of possession and the Chiefs are 26th.
* The quarterbacks for the Vikings and Chiefs have combined for just two touchdowns and eight interceptions.
* Even though he's a vested veteran and by being on the roster after the first week, Travis Taylor was guaranteed his entire $750,000 to play for the Raiders. Despite that fact, the Raiders released Taylor Saturday.
* Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann is engaged to Danni Boatright, a former winner on the TV show "Survivor."

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