When a team favored by more than two touchdowns plays as the Vikings did in losing 27-6 to Buffalo, there is a certain benefit of the doubt given as the game goes on.
Optimistic fans spend their energy focused on a possible comeback because the momentum has to turn at some point, right?
It’s hard to say exactly when that sentiment shifted for the majority of those watching the game, but it seemed like the moment arrived for CBS analyst Tony Romo early in the second half.
After a somewhat promising Vikings drive was snuffed out by a Kirk Cousins interception that went off Latavius Murray’s hands, Romo bellowed: “Couldn’t go worse for Minnesota!” as the broadcast headed to commercial.
Romo was more diagnostic later in the game, stating plainly that the Vikings can’t contend in the NFC if their offensive line doesn’t play better.
Both statements were full of truth.
• Oh, to be the Chiefs right now. Their offense is humming along at an amazing clip behind second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
And because of the way NFL salaries are structured for young players, Mahomes counts less than $4 million against Kansas City’s cap this season and is similarly cheap the next two seasons.
• If you’re looking for any silver lining Sunday, the Packers also lost to Washington and looked vulnerable doing it. The complexion of the NFC North has completely changed, and it might take just nine wins to take the crown.
Of course, if you’re looking for a storm cloud, consider the Vikings are at the Rams on a short week Thursday, then at Philadelphia. This early season could get ugly fast.
• The tweet of the day came from @FO_VVerhei, the account of Vincent Verhei of Football Outsiders. He had a twist on Mike Zimmer’s news conference last week in which Zimmer described the thought process behind cutting kicker Daniel Carlson. The tweet:
“I’ve decided the Vikings should fire Mike Zimmer.
(What went into that decision?)
Did you see the Bills game?
(Was it an easy decision?)
Yeah, it was pretty easy.”
Now, nobody should really suggest the firing of Zimmer, but this was another disturbing game. Much like the NFC title game loss to the Eagles, this was a full team failure. When that happens, it is fair to look at the head coach as a leading culprit.
And it is here where I will gently point out that in 2001 and 2010 — the seasons following the last two times the Vikings went to an NFC title game before they went last year — the Vikings had coaches fired before the season was over: Dennis Green and then Brad Childress.
• Speaking of something changing quickly, think of your impression of the Timberwolves a week ago — before Jimmy Butler’s trade request — and your impression now.
• We should have learned this collective lesson by now: Nonconference victories over inferior opponents in college football have little bearing once the competition gets better — particularly when the team in question is the Gophers.
Minnesota started this year 3-0, leading to optimism heading into Maryland on Saturday. That quickly dissipated in the wake of a 42-13 defeat.
In the past four seasons, spanning three head coaches — Jerry Kill, Tracy Claeys and P.J. Fleck — the Gophers are 12-1 in nonconference play. And they are 0-4 in Big Ten openers, losing by a combined score of 129-63.