The way the Vikings have played in their first three games is similar to their 2006 road map, and that isn't a good thing. They'll have a chance to right the ship in a big way Sunday if they can turn things around against division-rival Green Bay.
The Vikings are only three games into the season, but already it is starting to feel like a repeat of 2006. And that isn't a good thing considering Minnesota finished with a 6-10 record in Brad Childress' first year as an NFL head coach.
Among the troubling signs:
The team's West Coast offense continues to struggle to finish drives despite making several personnel changes that altered the makeup of the unit. The Vikings have made four trips into the red zone — only Buffalo with three red-zone possessions is worse — and accounted for 10 points in three games.
Members of a defense that continues to be dominant against the run have said all the right things to date but it's clear there is a growing level of frustration with the offense's ineptitude. This happened last year and caused some dissension in the locker room.
The defense isn't without fault. A unit that ranked tied for last in the NFL in 2006 gave up 393 passing yards two weeks ago against the Lions and continues to struggle with offenses that can spread them out.
None of this is good considering the Vikings (1-2) will play host to the resurgent Green Bay Packers (3-0) on Sunday at the Metrodome. The Vikings, who are coming off a 13-10 loss at Kansas City, already are 0-1 against NFC North teams after losing to the Lions.
The Packers will present a difficult matchup for the Vikings because, unlike the Chiefs, they are an extremely dangerous team through the air. Green Bay, which has the worst rushing offense in the NFL, could spend much of Sunday in multiple receiver sets and with no running back.
Not surprisingly, words like "must win" already have started to be uttered in the Vikings locker room.
"First of all from our standpoint, no doubt about it, it's a must win," receiver Bobby Wade said. "It's a divisional game; we're playing at home; we're coming off two tough losses. This is a must win for us and we're going to put our best foot forward obviously to try to get this.
"That being said, obviously, to be able to beat a 3-0 team that's leading our division that puts you right back where you want to be. The Bears lost last (Sunday against Dallas) and they've got to play Detroit this week. When you look at all that, a lot factors into this game as far as where we are going to sit after this game."
A loss to the Packers means the Vikings would be in big trouble as they enter their bye week. Minnesota's schedule coming out of the off week will feature games at Chicago (Oct. 14) and Dallas (Oct. 21) and home games versus Philadelphia (Oct. 28) and San Diego (Nov. 4).
It's uncertain who will be given the task of trying to lead the offense out of its doldrums on Sunday. Veteran Kelly Holcomb started at quarterback at Kansas City in place of the injured Tarvaris Jackson.
Childress has said if Jackson can't go that Holcomb definitely will start but at this point the door is still open for Jackson. It would not be surprising, however, if the Vikings elect to rest Jackson for another game, giving him three weeks off total.
Bud Grant's first victory as the Vikings coach was a 10-7 decision against the Packers on Oct. 15, 1967 in Milwaukee. Grant's team had started that season 0-4.
The past 10 games in this series have been about as even as it gets with a combined score of 239-239 between the teams.
The teams have gone to overtime five times dating to the Vikings' first season in the NFL in 1961. The only tie came in November 1978, when they played to a 10-10 deadlock at Lambeau Field. The five overtime games are the most by the Vikings against any single opponent.
The Vikings will wear throwback uniforms for Sunday's game as the team celebrates Chuck Foreman's induction into the Vikings Ring of Honor. It also is the Vikings' Alumni Weekend. The uniforms and helmets the Vikings will wear are representative of those worn by the team during Foreman's playing career (1973-79).
RB Ted Brown had the second-best rushing day in Vikings history when he ran for 179 yards on 29 carries in a 20-17 overtime victory over the host Packers on Oct. 23, 1983. Chuck Foreman holds the mark with a 200-yard rushing day on 28 carries against Philadelphia on Oct. 24, 1976.
WR Donald Driver caught six passes for 191 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' 23-17 victory over the Vikings last November at the Metrodome. That was the best single-game yardage total by an NFC receiver in 2006.
CB Antoine Winfield was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week after making 13 tackles and intercepting Brett Favre in the Vikings' 31-17 wild-card victory over the Packers during the 2004 season.
S Tank Williams had one of the best days of his career against the Packers while playing for Tennessee on Oct. 11, 2004. Williams intercepted a Favre pass and returned it 13 yards and recovered a Donald Driver fumble and returned it 28 yards in a Monday night game at Green Bay.
Veteran quarterback Kelly Holcomb made his first start since the 2005 season in the Vikings' 13-10 loss at Kansas City replacing the injured Tarvaris Jackson. It's not clear yet if Jackson (strained groin) will be able to return against the Packers, but it would not be surprising if the Minnesota coaching staff decides to let him rest for another week.
The Vikings have a bye after Sunday's game and thus Jackson would get three weeks off. Minnesota could get running back Chester Taylor back on Sunday after he missed the past two games because of a hip injury.
QB Tarvaris Jackson was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a groin strain.
RB Chester Taylor, who has missed two consecutive games because of a hip injury, was limited in Wednesday's practice.
WR Troy Williamson missed last Sunday's game because of a hamstring injury and had limited participation in Wednesday's practice.
S Dwight Smith played last Sunday despite a hamstring injury that limited him in Wednesday's practice.
S Darren Sharper played last Sunday despite a hip injury and went full speed on Wednesday.
FB Tony Richardson has missed two games because of a bruised forearm but was able to participate in all of Wednesday's practice.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 — The number of touchdowns for the Vikings defense (five interceptions, three fumble returns) since the start of the 2006 season. That is the most in the NFL during that time, ahead of Baltimore and Green Bay. Both have six apiece.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've just got to finish. Everybody talks about finishing but that's what we've got to do. We have to finish drives, we have to finish games. You see the teams like New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh. They finish people off. When they've got you down, they finish you off. We have to get that in us, we have to start finishing." — Quarterback Kelly Holcomb, on what the Vikings offense needs to start doing after averaging only 10 points in the first three games.