Warning: True tests lie ahead

The Vikings have beaten the teams they should on their way to a 5-0 record. The prove-it portion of their schedule is the next three weeks before getting a bye.

From about the time the 2009 schedule was released, one thing that seemed clear was that the easiest part of the Vikings schedule was going to be the beginning portion. Their first five opponents averaged more than 10 losses each and it was relatively certain that the Vikings wouldn't be an underdog in a game until they traveled to Pittsburgh in Week 7 to take on the defending champion Steelers.

So far, so good. The Vikings are 5-0 after their 38-10 beating of the St. Louis Rams, but the toughest portion of the team's schedule may well be coming between now and the Vikings bye week in early November. The Vikings' next three games come at home against Baltimore before road games at Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

There has been little denying that the Vikings are one of the premier teams in the NFC, but there are those who may not be fully convinced in their legitimacy as a Super Bowl contender until they face the kind of stretch of games that they're currently up against.

The Ravens will be a stiff defensive and offensive test, the Steelers are the defending champions that will be playing on their home field and Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field is sure to draw about as much – if not more – attention than his Monday night meeting with the Packers a week ago today.

If the Vikings are to be viewed as a real championship contender, they might have to win two of those three games to make believers. They've been taking hop-on riders to the bandwagon through their first five games. Now they have to win over the disbelievers. That will start this week, as the J.V. portion of the Vikings schedule appears to be over with the big boys lining up to take their shots.

MONDAY NOTES

  • The NFL fine police may be taking a chunk out of a couple of paychecks this week from Vikings players. Kevin Williams caused a pretty severe head snap on Rams quarterback Kyle Boller when he inadvertently got his hand inside the helmet of Boller on a pass rush. The same could be true for offensive lineman Artis Hicks, who delivered what some thought was a cheap shot on defensive tackle Gary Gibson following a pass from Brett Favre. Gibson, who locked on to Anthony Herrera, got drilled from the side by Hicks after the ball was out. Gibson fell awkwardly and broke his ankle and is lost for the season.

  • Hicks, who was playing because of an injury to rookie tackle Phil Loadholt, was a game-time decision to get the start. Loadholt, who was wearing a walking boot Sunday, injured his ankle during practice last week and will have to be monitored early in the week to see if he can return Sunday to take on the Ravens. The injury is believed to be a recurrence of the ankle injury he sustained in training camp.

  • Adrian Peterson continues to struggle facing consistent defensive looks that drop eight men into the box. Peterson consistently says he doesn't care how many yards he and the team record as long as the team keeps winning.

  • There was a time when Favre viewed domed stadiums as a personal shop of horrors. In the decade of the 1990s, Favre had a dismal 8-15 won-lost record in domed stadiums, thanks in large part to his struggles at the Metrodome. Since 2000, he has posted a record of 17-9 in domes, giving him a career mark of 25-24 under a roof.

  • Former Viking Randy Moss has a lot of records to his credit, but his resume got an inclusion Sunday few people saw coming – an interception. At the end of the first half of Sunday's Patriots-Broncos game, Moss was deployed as an extra defensive back when it was clear that Denver was going to attempt a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half. Moss won the jump ball and came down with the interception, the first pick of the year for Kyle Orton.


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