Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Are the Vikings for real? The NFL Blog Network breaks down each of the seven teams that started the season 3-0.
What they’ve accomplished: Minnesota’s first two wins came against Cleveland and Detroit, who are a combined 1-5. In each game, the Vikings trailed at halftime before storming back in the third quarter. They made it to 3-0 on the strength of Brett Favre’s miraculous 32-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis with 12 seconds remaining Sunday against San Francisco.
Along the way, they’ve proved their offense is most effective when it runs through tailback Adrian Peterson, not Favre. Their defense uncharacteristically gave up 218 rushing yards in the first two games, but it clamped down hard on the 49ers. One major area of concern: Already their special teams have given up two touchdowns, putting them on a pace to shatter last year’s NFL record of seven special teams touchdowns.
There are no style awards in the NFL, of course, so the nature of the journey matters little relative to where it ends.
What’s ahead: All four games against their primary NFC North competitors, Green Bay and Chicago, starting with Monday night’s showdown with the Packers. The Vikings also face a difficult out-of-division slate of games, including matchups against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants.
Honestly, the biggest obstacle the Vikings face is Favre’s stamina. He’s already taken a number of brutal hits as he approaches his 40th birthday and semi-joked that he was ready to collapse Sunday during his postgame news conference.
As we discussed this spring, Favre’s production has dropped dramatically after his 11th game in each of the past four seasons. The Vikings are a good team without Favre, but their hopes for a push to the Super Bowl depend on him maintaining a high level of play for all 16 games.
Realistic outcome: Based on their talent level, the Vikings should be considered among a handful of early favorites to win the NFC. They would consider it a huge disappointment if they didn’t win the division and advance at least a couple of games through the playoffs. This team is built to win now.
Think of everything it has going for it. The Williams Wall in all likelihood will remain intact as the StarCaps legal issue works its way through Minnesota courts. The Vikings have their best quarterback since Daunte Culpepper challenged for the MVP award in 2004. They have an early favorite for Rookie of the Year in Percy Harvin, one of the league’s top pass-rushers in Jared Allen and a great clutch kicker in Ryan Longwell. There aren’t many holes here, and so far all of their bets have paid off.