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Vikings rate as a big surprise

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A lot of fans are worried about the Minnesota Vikings after their less-than-stellar start. There is a poll out that asks fans which NFL team's start has surprised them the most. Leading the pack is our Vikings.

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Do you suppose last year's Vikings were abducted by aliens?

The pieces do not always fall neatly into place. The whole NFL season is off to a weird start. The Vikings and the Cowboys are 0-2. Teams like Houston, Tampa Bay, Miami, Chicago and Kansas City are 2-0.

Sure, last year's Vikings got off to a great 6-0 start but they lost three of their last five regular season games and blew a good shot at the home field advantage in the playoffs. They had to travel to the Superdome for the NFC title game instead of hosting it at Mall of America Field where they were unbeaten.

This year's season-opening loss to New Orleans was disappointing but not that surprising. Give the Saints credit for a great P.R. move by dropping that banner just before the game. They have good players and a good head coach in Sean Payton.

The Miami loss hurts for several reasons. The Vikes finally lost at home, they lost to an inferior team and while they won the yardage battle, they just kept shooting themselves in the foot -- just like they did last January in New Orleans when they once again choked in the clutch and failed to make the Super Bowl.

Tarvaris Jackson might have gotten the starting nod from Brad Childress if Brett Favre had not been on the roster. How much worse could that have been? Favre reported to camp late and then only because Childress sent three of his teammates to fetch him in a private jet. Bringing Favre into camp was a calculated risk. Once Favre was on board there was no way he was not going to start the season. He has that impressive consecutive game streak going. Besides, how many people wanted to see a sub start at quarterback in Minnesota's season opener?

The phrase that has been used to describe the Vikings this season is "out of sync." They do not have all of their pieces. Their secondary is busted up, Sidney Rice is recovering from surgery, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin are ailing. Chester Taylor is playing for Chicago. Favre, the guru who threw 33 touchdown passes last year during the season, has thrown just one this year. The National Football League's second-best offense has scored a crummy 19 points.

Were the Vikings lazy in the off-season? You could certainly make a strong case that they were. Sure, they took the NFC Championship game into overtime and they had a bunch of Pro Bowlers on the roster but come on, where was the burning hunger to improve in the off-season? As a businessman, Zygi Wilf should understand what happens to the business that stands still.

The Vikes better start getting serious about the season in the next couple of weeks. After playing Detroit they have a bye week. Then the fun will really start -- a trip to New York to play the Jets, a home game with Dallas, road games with Green Bay and New England. We should know by the end of October if the Vikes are going to be a playoff team or an also-ran.

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