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Vikings Ready to Bounce Back After Up-And-Down 1st Quarter of 2019

EAGAN, Minn. — A quarter into the 2019 season, the Vikings sit at 2-2 and in last place in the NFC North.

Minnesota is 2-0 at home, getting wins over Atlanta and Oakland while outscoring opponents 64 to 26. The Vikings have rushed for 383 total yards and six touchdowns in those games.

But the Vikings are winless on the road, with both defeats coming at the hands of division foes in Green Bay and Chicago.

Whether it was a slow start at Lambeau Field or a lack of offensive explosion in the Windy City, the Vikings now find themselves with an even split through the first four games of the season.

And with a dozen games remaining in the 2019 season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer knows better than anyone to start reaching for the panic button.

"This team won't be judged in September," Zimmer said Monday. "In the NFC, the leading team has three wins, so we'll just keep fighting and keep going."

In the previous two seasons that the Vikings have started 2-2, Minnesota ended up winning the NFC North both times.

In 2015, the Vikings turned a 2-2 start into an 11-5 campaign and Zimmer's first division crown.

And in 2017, Minnesota split its first four games but lost just once the rest of the way, going 13-3, winning the NFC North and advancing to the NFC title game.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was on both of those division-winning teams. He knows the recipe it takes to have success the rest of the way, starting with Sunday's road game against the Giants.

"It will be a good test for us as a team and will really show what kind of people we have on this team, coming off a tough loss," Thielen said. "'How are we going to work in practice? How are we going to handle the frustration? Are we going to use that as a positive this week or go down in the dumps?'

"I think I have a good idea of what that response is going to be because we have so many great guys in this locker room," Thielen added. "But we've got to go out and do it."

As Zimmer mentioned above, the Vikings only trail by one game in the win column in the NFC. San Francisco, which had a Week 4 bye, is the conference's lone unbeaten team at 3-0, while six teams (including Chicago and Green Bay) are 3-1.

Detroit sits at 2-1-1, ahead of five teams, including the Vikings, that currently sit at 2-2.

View game action images as the Vikings took of the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Three of Minnesota's next four games come against teams who currently have the same record or one that is worse.

The Giants are 2-2, as are the Eagles, who come to U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 6. The Vikings travel to Detroit in Week 7 before coming home for Thursday Night Football against Washington (0-4).

Each of the next four opponents — the second quarter of the Vikings season — are all in the NFC, meaning conference wins could be crucial if tiebreakers are needed to determine the playoff field after Week 17.

In short, there is still plenty of time left for the Vikings to make a run at the postseason.

The offense will need to find consistency and balance, while the defense will need to continue to play at a high level. Big plays on special teams wouldn't hurt, either.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook summed up Minnesota's mindset in the locker room on Monday.

"No level of concern, we've just got to go get better," Cook said. "It's early in the season, still got a lot of football ahead of us.

"Both of those teams we lost to come to U.S. Bank [Stadium], so we've got a good opportunity to get revenge on those teams. And we've still got to face Detroit, which nobody has faced yet in the division," Cook added. "It's still a lot ahead of us that we're looking forward to, and like I said, the Giants are our next opponent, and we're trying to go win that football game."