This Vikings hole looks familiar

The Vikings are 1-3, exactly what they talked about avoiding heading into the season. However, a look at the rest of the division offers some hope.

Now what?

For much of the preseason, Vikings players were almost unanimous in their belief that the reason the team missed the 2007 playoffs was the result of a 1-3 start that forced them to spend the next two months trying to climb out of a hole. A year later, the result is identical – the Vikings are 1-3 and looking up at a lot of teams in the NFC.

Although we're only at the quarter-pole of the 2008 season, it is becoming apparent that the four teams in the NFC North might be battling for one playoff spot. Despite losses Sunday by both the Cowboys and Eagles, the belief around most of the league is that the four teams in the NFC East may all win 10 games this year. The Giants are 3-0 after having a bye week, the Cowboys and Redskins are both 3-1 and the injury-riddled Eagles are 2-2 after a road loss to Chicago last night.

The NFC North has a much different look. The Packers and Bears are both 2-2, the Vikings are 1-3 and the hapless Lions are 0-3 coming out of their bye week with a new general manager expected to be brought on board soon.

The Packers are in a potential make-or-break situation with quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffering a shoulder injury that could sideline him. The Packers have two rookies as Rodgers' backups, so any missed time could be bad news for the Pack and good news for the rest of the division, which now appears to be much more wide open.

The best news for the Vikings is that two of their three losses have come against AFC teams, which aren't factored into tie-breaker procedures, and their other loss was against Green Bay – a defeat that can be negated by beating Green Bay when they meet at the Metrodome later this season.

There are few positives that can be taken away from a loss like the Vikings suffered Sunday and, at 1-3, the same hole they dug themselves in 2007 has returned in 2008. The only difference is that the Vikings had a good chance to be a wild card team in 2007. There isn't as much optimism that the same avenue will be open to them this time around.


  • Bryant McKinnie returns to practice today after being forced to sit out the first four weeks of the season due to a suspension.

  • The Vikings didn't start E.J. Henderson Sunday, sitting him a series for what is being described as a disciplinary response for being late to a team meeting on Friday.

  • Henderson is expected to have a MRI on his foot today. He injured the foot in the first half and was taken to the locker room on a cart. He returned to action in the second half, but was forced to leave the game again when he aggravated the injury.

  • Gus Frerotte had a pretty rough fourth quarter. His left (non-throwing) hand required a couple of stitches after being cut while being tackled, but Frerotte was pretty candid about a shot below the belt delivered with the crown of the helmet by Titans DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, which Frerotte characterized as an intentional low blow. Expect the league to review the play and don't be surprised if Vanden Bosch is fined for the hit.

  • Over the weekend, rumors in Kansas City said that tight end Tony Gonzalez was on the trading block and the Vikings were one of the teams mentioned. The Chiefs have said they aren't interested in trading Gonzo and there is no word from Vikings camp that the team has expressed an interest in trading for the Pro Bowl TE.

  • Considering how badly his team began to publicly call him out in the media, it was no surprise that the Rams wasted little time in firing former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as their head coach. The Rams have been brutal all season, allowing 31 or more points in all four of their losses, and players like Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Steven Jackson all threw Linehan under the bus last week with comments directed at getting him fired. A press conference is scheduled for today to make the announcement official.

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