Think back to the morning of Sept. 12.
That's 45 days ago for humankind, but an eternity for the shifting of perceptions for the NFL's never-ending hyperbole merry-go-round.
That morning, the Vikings were favored by 3 points at Cincinnati.
Remember the vibe? Remember how the Purple absolutely had to win that day and the following week at Arizona because these were deemed beatable opponents to be disposed of before the unbeatable Seahawks arrived at U.S. Bank Stadium?
The Bengals were 4-11-1 a year ago and picked to finish last in the AFC North. The Cardinals had missed the playoffs and were, at best, the third-best team in the NFC West.
Welp, here we are, 45 days later and the teams currently holding the top seeds in the AFC and NFC are … the Bengals and the Cardinals.
The Vikings coulda, shoulda beat them both, but didn't. Then they beat the Seahawks 30-17. And yet many of us keep on counting wins and losses long before they're won or lost.
The Vikings are 3-3. We've been told many times that their next five games – Dallas, at Baltimore, at the Chargers, Green Bay and at San Francisco – are so B-R-U-T-A-L that going 2-3 should be celebrated.
How can anyone profess to know this? Other than basically every week, when have we all been surprised that the past couldn't predict the present?
Forty-five days ago, we thought the Chiefs were still great, Seattle was good and San Francisco would be great again. Today, they're all just bad.
In Week 4, Tennessee was a 7 ½-point favorite at the Jets. The Titans lost.
In Weeks 6-7, Tennessee was an underdog at home against the Bills and Chiefs. Then, in a six-day span, the Titans outscored the Bills 34-31 and shut down Patrick Mahomes 27-3.
After Sunday's win against the Chiefs, a Titans team that a month ago gave the Jets their only win, was being asked about winning the AFC and going to the Super Bowl.
"They're not handing out Lombardi Trophies in the middle of the season," Titans safety Kevin Byard warned reporters.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow delivered one of the greatest eye rolls in the history of NFL interviews when asked to respond to former NFL quarterback-turned-analyst Phil Simms saying Burrow "is the modern-day Joe Montana" a month after Bengals running back Joe Mixon had compared rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase to Jerry Rice.
"Let's relax," Burrow said. "Let's relax with all that. Let me be me."
Funny how 45 days ago Burrow was the rusty, inexperienced guy with two NFL wins for a league laughingstock. He hadn't played since tearing an ACL in the 10th game of his rookie season. His top target, Chase, couldn't catch a darn thing in the preseason.
Together, 45 days ago, they were supposed to be comfort food for a restocked Vikings team that was healthy again.
Sunday, Burrow threw for 416 yards — including 201 to immediate-All-Pro-in-the-making Chase — to put a 41-17 beatdown on a team that had sacked him seven times a year ago in Baltimore.
Monday, Vikings right tackle Brian O'Neill tried to get reporters to believe he "had no idea who we play after the Cowboys" until informed of the supposed Murder's Row that awaits the next five weeks.
He knows the schedule. They all do, including coach Mike Zimmer.
While adhering to the one-game-at-a-time cliché, Zimmer did admit, "For us to prove where we are, this stretch will be important."
Things could go any number of ways. Good, bad or winless.
The Cowboys have won five straight and are coming off a bye as well. But Dak Prescott is nursing a calf injury, and crowd noise will be a huge factor in prime time on Halloween night.
The Ravens are good. But they also needed a record 66-yard field goal to beat the Lions, and just got destroyed by a team that needed overtime to beat the Vikings.
The Chargers are good. But the Ravens went there and beat them 34-6 a week before giving up 41 to the Bengals.
The Packers are better than good, going 13-1 within the division under Matt LaFleur. But it was the Vikings who beat them at Lambeau Field while using seven rookie defenders a year ago.
As for the 49ers, they've lost four straight. They're 0-3 at home. And, basically, they're nowhere near as good as everyone perceived them to be when this merry-go-round of hyperbole hit regular-season mode 45 days ago.