Minnesota Vikings are Still the Team To Beat in the NFC North

Dan AdamsCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2010

The Smile is on the Way
The Smile is on the WayRonald Martinez/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings are off to an 0-2 start and have quickly fallen two games behind their division rivals, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. A team which was a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty away from having a shot at the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl just eight months ago has suddenly lost its identity and swagger.

Brett Favre strolled into the Twin Cities in mid-August 2009 and immediately the Vikings reaped the benefits of the future Hall of Fame quarterback. A year later, Favre contemplated all his options and seemed headed toward retirement. Whether or not the drama-queen that Favre has become played into the media and his own ego, it took three of his closest friends and a significant pay raise to seal the deal for the 2010-2011 season.

Is it time to panic in Minnesota? The answer is absolutely not. With the winless and hopeless Detroit Lions on the horizon, the Vikings will head into their early bye-week off of a victory. A 1-2 start is not ideal for this Super Bowl hopeful franchise, but it does not nearly mean it is time to panic.

Their defense has played extremely well considering that they have been without their top two defensive backs in Cedric Griffin (ACL surgery) and Chris Cook (Knee Sprain). With their returns looking imminent and the prospect and growing likelihood of a trade for San Diego wide-out, Vincent Jackson.

The Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre could look a whole lot better after the midway point of this season. A tough road schedule early on, but a very capable team that has the ability to win any game on the road will be better tested and stronger moving towards the postseason this year.

The popular Super Bowl choice was the Dallas Cowboys and they have opened up 0-2 to start the season. A city hosting the Super Bowl has never enjoyed the big party it would be to have their hometown club playing it. That jinx will likely continue with the pressure put on the ’Boys in the Big "D" this season.

The San Francisco 49ers were a popular sleeper pick to overtake the Cardinals in the NFC West, but have started the season 0-2, including an embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They battled the Super Bowl champs to the wire in their home-opener on Monday Night Football, but proved they are not ready to take that next step.

New Orleans looks like they will control the NFC South. They have played extremely well to start their first two games, but both the Vikings and 49ers had very good chances to beat them. They look to be contenders, but are also vulnerable to a team that does not turnover the ball and takes advantage of the mistakes that Drew Brees rarely makes.

The undefeated and untested Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 but are a very unlikely playoff team. They have defeated a bad Cleveland Browns team and an underachieving Carolina Panthers club under the reigns of a new quarterback.

The Jay Cutler led Bears should have lost to Detroit in their home-opener, but played nicely in a win on the road in Dallas to start the season 2-0. Mike Martz has the offense clicking, but their two opponents combine for an 0-4 record.

They are an intriguing team to watch as the season moves forward. Their star power on defense with Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher is going to be the key to a sustained run. An average group of receivers has been overcome by great quarterback play by Cutler. If he continues to grow as a quarterback the Bears could surprise a lot of people and stand in the Vikings way in the North.

The Green Bay Packers are the most overrated team in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers has player very well and deserves all of the credit for their undefeated start to the season. The Eagles and Bills are not playoff teams and the Pack took care of business at home and on the road.

Their running game took a big hit and could be their biggest obstacle to overcome. If teams say force them to run, its not a guarantee that Brandon Jackson can make plays like Ryan Grant can. There was a reason that Grant became the starter, He passed Jackson on the depth chart because he was not performing a couple years back.

Brett Favre inspired his club to play with some extra vigor in their two matchups last season. He will likely do it again this year, and with the addition of Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, and a tuned up offense, the standings in the NFC North could take a big swing the latter half of the year.

“Calm down, calm down!” as Head Coach, Mike Tice once said. Vikings fans the losses in September feel bad right now, but you want the wins in January and February. With the weapons on the way, you will slowly realize your team is still the best in the NFC.

Yes, the best. They outplayed the eventual Super Bowl winners and were the casualty of a coaching mistake, a bad throw, and a number of fumbles. Don’t blame your problems on No. 4. He is the least of your worries. Head coach Brad Childress should be the one worried right now. Favre had to take things into his own hands towards the end of last season, he will do it again when the time is right.