Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/26/12

The Vikings find themselves in a first place tie with the Chicago Bears after three weeks of football, and it's to everyone’s surprise.

It is a role reversal from last year-- the two former playoff teams now at the bottom and the two teams who missed the cut at the top. While everyone can argue the Packers should also be 2-1, they are not, and a game like the one we all watched on Monday night can disrupt a team’s feng shui both on and off the field, and impact an entire season.

The Vikings will be playing their first divisional game Week 4 against the Detroit Lions, and then they won’t face another NFC North foe until the Detroit rematch Week 10.

The key to a Vikings win is a balanced offensive attack and a defensive that can stop whichever Detroit quarterback will be playing. With Stafford possibly being sidelined with a leg injury, Detroit will rely on Shaun Hill to call the plays under center. This could work out in Minnesota’s favor because a weakened passing game will allow them stop an already weak running game. I’m predicting a Vikings victory in Week 4, but will it keep the Purple People Eater momentum going?

Following the Detroit game, the Vikings play two less then average opponents in Tennessee and Washington, but both game could easily be trap games. The Titans proved they could win last week in an overtime thriller against the Lions and the Redskins have proven to be a much more complete team this year with RG3 at the helm.  Between the two games, the Vikings will most likely win one and lose one. While both games could be easy wins with proper game planning, after a Week 2 lose to the Colts, I think it's inevitable that the Vikings will lose one out of these two contests.

To find themselves at the season’s midway point, the Vikings then have to play a very good Arizona Cardinals team and a gritty Tampa Bay team. Right now Minnesota has the 8th ranked defense and 15th ranked offense in the league.

The Buccaneers and Cardinals has the 32nd and 31st ranked offenses in the league; yes, that’s right, the two worst offenses in the league on paper. The Cardinals know how to win games with their defense, but as Minnesota proved this past weekend against the 49ers, a team is going to need more than that to get a W against them. I’m chalking up a Viking upset. The Buccaneers in my opinion are one of the worst team’s in the league. I think they’ll hang around with the Vikings, but fail to make the most of their opportunities and fall short of a win.

With eight weeks in the books, I have the Vikings at 6-2 and in the driver seat of the NFC North with five divisional games left to play.

While 6-2 is a solid mid-season mark I think it’s going to take at least 11 wins to earn a divisional title in the NFC North this year. The early season schedule for the Vikings is mediocre at best. It’ll be the second half of the season that will prove just how good they are. If they pass that test, then they’ll find themselves in the playoffs. But until then, they’ll have to remain consistent and well prepared every week.



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