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Lunch Break, 9/16: What Follows Opening Act?

By now, everyone knows what happened in the Vikings season-opener at the 49ers, but what does it mean?

The Star Tribune's Mark Craig and Michael Rand offered takes.

Craig cited the 2001 season-opening win by a 1-15 Carolina team and the Bills 31-0 win against the Patriots to open 2003 as reasons that the first game isn't always tied to what happens in the rest of a season.

*Fortunately for the Vikings, history tells us that Week 1 doesn't always serve as a lasting harbinger in a league that's neither marathon, nor sprint, but rather 16 days of Duck, Duck, Goose. *

*… Fifteen weeks later, the Patriots capped a 14-2 regular season with, yep, a 31-0 win over the Bills. The won the Super Bowl while the Bills did what they've done every year since 1999: Not make the playoffs. *

Rand, meanwhile, took a look at teams that have finished between 5-11 and 11-5 in the past 25 years for a different historical perspective and found teams that won the season-opener have been twice as likely to make the playoffs.

Rand added:

For the Vikings, too, the season opener also has often been an indicator of how the year will play out. In their history, the Vikings are 30-24-1 in season openers. In the 54 seasons not counting this one, they made the playoffs 20 out of 30 times (67 percent) when they won their opener. In the 24 years they lost or tied the opener, they made the playoffs just seven times (29 percent).

*Two notable seasons in which the Vikings were able to overcome an opening loss: 1969 when they rebounded to make it to the Super Bowl and, more recently in 2008 when they dropped their first two games but still won the NFC North. *

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So I'm telling you there's a chance, even if history says Monday was a bad sign.

Chris Miller reported that viewership of the Vikings-49ers game was the most viewed late-night half of the doubleheader ever:

The Vikings-49ers game earned an 8.8 rating and had 14,330,000 viewers, making it the most viewed Monday Night Football doubleheader late game ever. It also was the first time the second game of the doubleheader had better ratings than the first; the Falcon-Eagles game did an 8.5. Locally, the Vikings game was shown on Ch. 4 and ESPN and had a combined 31.3 rating.

Other follow-ups

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press on Gerald Hodges and Andrew Sendejo's starting roles.

Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com with a film review of the*offense and defense*.

Ben Goessling of ESPN.com with thoughts on Adrian Peterson and the shotgun formation.

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