The Vikings, as Mike Zimmer described it, are two plays away from being 2-0.
But they're not. Blame luck, blame the coaching, blame certain players — however you slice it, the Vikings are 0-2 with the Seahawks and Browns coming to Minnesota the next two weeks.
Yes, there are 15 games still to be played. Yes, the Vikings have shown plenty of positives in each of their first two games. That doesn't change the fact that losing their first two games puts them in a hole that history says teams typically don't climb out of.
Here's the big stat: since 1990, 258 teams have started 0-2. Only 30 went on to make the playoffs, a rate of 11.6 percent. Only three won the Super Bowl.
The Vikings, in the history of their franchise, have started 0-2 on 14 occasions. They only made the playoffs in one of those seasons. That was back in 2008, when Brad Childress's Vikings won 10 of their final 14 games to take the NFC North title. They lost in the wild card round in Philadelphia.
Those numbers paint a bleak picture. However, it's important to note a couple things working in the Vikings' favor this season. There are both an extra game (17 vs. 16) and an extra playoff spot (7 teams per conference vs. 6) this year compared to the vast majority of that sample. The Vikings also play in a division that doesn't seem like it'll be very strong this year, considering all four teams lost in Week 1 (the Bears won on Sunday and the Packers and Lions play on Monday night).
Not only that, but there are legitimate reasons to be encouraged by the Vikings' overall performance through two games. Kirk Cousins hasn't turned the ball over once and has led two game-winning drives that came up short for reasons out of his control. Dalvin Cook was awesome in Week 2, as was the offensive line. The Vikings have three legitimately dangerous wide receivers with the emergence of K.J. Osborn. The defense has sprung leaks in both games, which is concerning, but they've also got eight sacks and two interceptions so far. Michael Pierce, Danielle Hunter, Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, and Nick Vigil have been among the standouts. Even the special teams have been good, outside of Greg Joseph's two missed kicks in Arizona.
The Vikings have put themselves in position to win each of their games, and while there are plenty of performances, decisions, and plays that can be criticized, it would be hard to argue that bad luck hasn't been one of the biggest factors in their 0-2 start.
"I think today was encouraging, honestly, about the heart that we played with today, and the fight that we played with today," Zimmer said. "If we play like that, we’ll win a lot of games. They may all come down to like this, like the last two have. As long as we do that, we keep fighting and keep trying to get better, and keep working together, sticking together as a football team, then I think we’ve got a chance."
The Vikings remain confident that their luck will turn and they'll start winning these close games. They've still got 15 games to turn things around and have a successful season. But they need to start climbing out of this hole next week against the Seahawks, because if they dig any deeper, it won't matter how much talent they have.
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