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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Offers Low Panic Level for Vikings After 0-2 Start

The Vikings are one of six teams across the NFL that have an 0-2 record, although that number will likely increase to seven with the winless Lions and Packers squaring off on Monday Night Football.

Lindsay Jones of The Athletic offered up a panic level for each winless team, including the Vikings, after Week 2. Jones explained that a Level 1 was little cause for concern, while Level 5 meant serious issues.

Jones tabbed Minnesota with a Level 2, which was tied with Jacksonville for the lowest level of any team.

She wrote:

The Vikings are the closest team to 2-0 on this list. They've now lost in overtime to the Bengals and 34-33 to the Cardinals after kicker Greg Joseph's attempt at a game-winner sailed wide right.

Does this mean Minnesota is better than its record indicates? Probably, though that's probably of little solace to Mike Zimmer, who must be almost out of patience for his team's unforced errors.

The good news is that the Vikings offense looked like it was supposed to. Minnesota was led Sunday by running back Dalvin Cook, who had 96 of his 131 rushing yards in the first half. Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, was back on track. He had three touchdowns and no interceptions, and his connections with receivers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and, surprisingly, K.J. Osborn, are thriving.

The key now for the Vikings is not letting the heartbreaking endings poison their potential. No one else has pulled away in the NFC North, and with a few better breaks, maybe Minnesota's luck will turn.

Minnesota has the smallest point-differential among all 0-2 teams at minus-four.

Cousins echoed Jones' sentiments that he believes the Vikings will get back on track.

"We just have to turn a few of these losses into wins and we need to find a way to make enough plays," Cousins said. "Not even at the end, but make enough plays in the first-through-third quarters so that we're on top.

"I could have told you in April or July or August that I believe in the guys on this team, the group we have, so after two games, my opinion hasn't changed at all," Cousins added.

The Vikings will look to get their first win of the season Sunday at home against the Seahawks.

Cronin: Vikings hampered by allowing big plays

The final two minutes of the first half hasn’t been kind to the Vikings defense so far in 2021.

Minnesota allowed a 77-yard touchdown pass Sunday, and this was on the heels of giving up a 50-yard score in Week 1 against the Bengals, both of which came after the 2-minute warning.

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin analyzed the Vikings Week 2 loss to the Cardinals and pondered a question going forward: How can the Vikings defense stop giving up big plays?

Cronin wrote:

Kyler Murray torched Minnesota's secondary with his deep ball, going 6-of-7 for 200 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on throws of 15-plus yards downfield. You know who else likes to throw it deep? Russell Wilson, the quarterback the Vikings face at home next week. Wilson mirrors so much of what Murray did to frustrate Minnesota's D, including his ability to escape the pocket and make massive, accurate throws on the run and remain unfazed with defenders barreling down on him. Murray was 6-of-10 for 140 yards, two TDs and an INT when pressured.

Through two games, the Vikings have allowed eight passing plays of 20-plus yards, the sixth-most across the league.

Overall, Minnesota has allowed 9.33 yards per passing play so far this season. That ranks 28th in the league and would be the highest amount the Vikings have yielded under Zimmer.