Bye weeks can typically be viewed in two ways - either they can slow down a team that has started off fast or they can help a team that has yet to find a rhythm by giving it two weeks to regroup and refocus.
At the beginning of the season, if someone would have asked me which category the Vikings would fall into going into their bye week, I would have quickly replied to the first option. Hindsight being 20/20, however, I am glad nobody asked.
The Vikings easily fall into the latter category. Undefeated teams like Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Cinncinatti definately fall into the first catagory.
Their bye weeks, however, don't come until week seven, week eight and week ten, respectively. This allows them to continue to surge during the early season and rack up wins on their way to the playoffs.
The Vikings, however, should be ecstatic that their bye has come. They need every moment to come to terms with what can only be put as a harsh dissapointment.
Not only do the Vikes need time to regroup and figure out why they have gone from a perennial NFC powerhouse to the doghouse in four short weeks, but they also need the time desperately to heal from injuries that plauge most of the starting lineup.
Everyone seems to have some sort of injury. I even heard that the towel boy strained his hamstring and is listed as doubtful for the Oct. 16 game against Chicago.
Defensively, Darren Sharper, Brian Williams, Kenechi Udeze, Lance Johnstone, E.J. Henderson and Sam Cowart were all listed on the injury report going into week four.
On the other side of the ball, Nate Burleson, Moe Williams, Meweldee Moore and now Daunte Culpepper are all injured and thanking the football Gods for a week five bye.
With any other team, this season would most certainly be considered a lost cause. That is not the case in Minny, though, because the homely Vikes dwell in the NFC North division. A division that is so lackluster, the Storm Lake Tornadoes would have a shot at the division title.
The Chicago Bears haven't been able to find a steady quarterback since Jim McMahon and his shades graced the field, and Detroit's best option at QB at this point in the season may be an injured Jeff Garcia.
Green Bay has fallen from grace so fast that even John Madden is having a hard time finding good things to say about Brett Favre.
The Vikings are not faring much better, but in such a weak division and the soft schedule that is forthcomming, the purple and gold have to be optimistic that they can still win their division.
That has to be the ultimate goal for the team at this point. Not only would the division win boost the confidence of this club going into next season, but it would automatically give them a playoff spot, and with just a couple of extra wins, possibly a home game or two.
The NFC itself as a whole is not very good either. Tampa Bay and Washington are the only undefeated teams, and it is just a matter of time before Dan Snyder's team completely implodes.
That leaves three teams to claim the top spot in the NFC. The usual two are Atlanta and Philadelphia. Philly has looked vunerable at times and I'm convinced that they are beatable within the NFC. Atlanta is decent but is truly one-dimensional, which weighs heavily on their chances to beat anyone deep in the playoffs.
The other team is Tampa Bay. With an impressive young group on offense and a solid defense, the Bucs have been playing solid football. How long can Brian Griese and Carnell Willams keep up this run. That will determine if they are legitimate contenders or just pretenders.
Which leads me to my point. With no team clearly grasping the reigns of the NFC, there is room for any team to sneak up and snatch it.
It will take a lot of work on the Vikes' behalf, but if some of the injuries can heal and the team can start to gel, they have just as good a chance to make a playoff run as any other team in the NFC. We'll see if the bye week came at the right time.