Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/1/12

The Minnesota Vikings got lucky this week.

A pair of returns made up for their lack of offense, and they escaped Ford Field with a tough win thanks to their defense, matching a surprising trend:

So far this year, the Vikings have looked more like a playoff contender than a team that is rebuilding.

It's still too early to hand them the division crown, but at this point, I would have to call them the favorites.

Week One should have been easier than it was, but the Jaguars have a respectable defense and a moving cannonball for a running back. 

The next week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts was because of a mistake that young teams are going to make- a 2nd quarter sack-fumble while driving to take back the lead.  Instead of going up 13-7 or 9-7, the Vikings were down 10-6, and the Colts used their momentum to build a 17-6 halftime lead.

The Vikings have since learned how to win games in convincing fashion.  They beat the San Fransisco 49ers on both sides of the ball, never relinquishing the lead.  Now they go into Detroit and shut down an explosive Detroit offense until desperation time.

Meanwhile, the Packers are 2-2 after barely beating a weak New Orleans team that is suffering from the #SBHostCurse, but haven't been able to beat a playoff contender without inside knowledge from years of clashes and a little trickeration (sorry Terry Bradshaw, I like your word).  The offense just isn't there, and the defense has been gashed on the ground.

The Detroit Lions aren't able to score at will like they did last year, and the defense still can't stop the pass.  They only escaped a regulation loss against a terrible Tennessee teams because of multiple miracles, then shot themselves in the foot to lose.

The Chicago Bears have the best chance to compete with the Vikings, so long as Matt Forte stays healthy.  Without the ability to give Forte the ball in space, the Bears are left with a leaky offensive line and a lack of weapons, yet somehow people believe Jay Cutler should be able to stay calm?  Defense alone isn't enough, and Devin Hester can't provide 14 points a game if teams kick away from him.

The Vikings are 8th in passing defense, and 13th in run defense, and are averaging 350 balanced yards a game on offense (compared with the Bears' 290).  A respectable offense with multiple weapons, combined with a solid defense, is a recipe for success.

Besides, who else is going to win the North?

The author does own Percy Harvin in a couple of fantasy leagues, but that is it.  He challenges any and all Packers/Bears fans to prove him wrong.  Lions fans are banned from the conversation until Matthew Stafford puts up 3 TDs in a game.

You can see him calling for the Vikings' win this week here. He wishes that he had predicted this in his Vikings preview, but he didn't.

The author is also looking forward to the Cowboys dominating the Bears on Monday Night Football.



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