From 1990 to 2019, only 12% of teams that started 0-2 have made the playoffs. On the surface, this spells trouble for the Minnesota Vikings, who have lost in heartbreaking fashion two weeks in a row. However, I wouldn’t press the panic button yet.
One thing is apparent when looking back at these last two games. The Vikings aren’t losing due to a lack of talent or effort. Kirk Cousins nearly had a comeback victory against the Cincinnati Bengals before the refs made some questionable calls. In Glendale, the Vikings’ offense was a step ahead of an Arizona Cardinals defense led by J.J. Watt, while the Vikings’ defense got a pick-six off Kyler Murray. Unfortunately, Mike Zimmer let Greg Joseph determine the game as the clock wound down, which didn’t work out.
A positive takeaway here would be that the Bengals and Cardinals are two great offensive teams with talented young quarterbacks, and the Vikings nearly beat both of them. While that can be encouraging, many people aren’t satisfied with coming close. Adam Thielen shares the same sentiment.
Like many fans, I get the feeling that these are the same old Vikings. A team that consistently comes up short against the NFL’s elite, only to turn around and play down to an inferior opponent’s level. And if there’s one team that the Vikings consistently struggle against, it’s the Seattle Seahawks. Going into his eighth season as head coach, Zimmer has gone 0-5 against Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. If Zim wants to prove that this Vikings squad is different from previous years, winning against a familiar foe would be a great way of doing so.
Beating the Seahawks won’t be easy, considering that they have Russell Wilson under center. It also helps to have one of the best wide receiver tandems in football in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who are both able to get open against some of the league’s premier cornerbacks with relative ease. The team also signed Gerald Everett this offseason and saw the return of Will Dissly, who suffered a season-ending injury last year, making up one of the league’s better tight end rooms.
One thing that’s working in the Vikings’ favor: The Seahawks will travel to U.S. Bank Stadium for a regular-season game for the first time in the Zimmer era. Having over 60,000 Vikings fans doing the Skol chant before the game will undoubtedly give the Seahawks a preview of how deafeningly loud it will be whenever Wilson is on the field.
It would be a huge accomplishment for Zimmer to beat Carroll. More broadly, a win over Seattle could be the momentum swing that changes the trajectory of the season.
Minnesota’s next two games are against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions, both of which will be played at home. Historically, the Vikings have performed well against Cleveland and Detroit. The Vikings are 12-4 all-time against Cleveland and are 78-39-2 against the Lions.
However, the Browns may be a tough matchup this time around. But if the Vikings can beat Seattle, I think there’s a pretty good chance they beat Cleveland. The Browns’ defense has given up 27 points a game through two weeks, which is worse than Cincinnati, Arizona, and Seattle. Cleveland has been dealing with some injuries on offense, most notably Jarvis Landry, who was recently placed on injured reserve with an MCL sprain. Jedrick Wills returned to action in Week 2 but only played 70% of snaps on offense. Since entering the league, he’s been a bit injury-prone, so that’s something fans should keep an eye on. Either way, having Danielle Hunter go against Wills seems like a matchup you’d feel comfortable with if you’re Minnesota.
The Lions are 0-2 and consistently among the worst teams in the NFL. The Vikings swept them last season when they had Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones Jr. From a talent perspective, the Lions are worse than before, but they have some things going for them. Dan Campbell seems to be a good motivator; the offensive line is solid with Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and Penei Sewell leading the way, Jared Goff is playing at a respectable level, and they’ll play hard for 60 minutes. With that being said, I still expect the Vikings to win this game — even if it is closer than one would think.
If the Vikings prove that they can beat the Seahawks, it’ll be much easier for them to win their next two home games. Handling business against Cleveland and Detroit puts Minnesota at 3-2 and would revive their playoff aspirations.