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.