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Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - When you talk to baseball players who play 162, or even basketball teams who will take the court 82 times a year, the NFL's 16 game season that is spread out over the period of four and a half months may not seem like it's asking a whole lot. Looking deeper at the nature and the physicality of the game, sixteen seems like it's probably the right number.
When you are a team fighting your way through a 16 game schedule, it's impossible not to break that schedule down both by opponent and by numerical values. Even if you are not a math-wiz, you can probably figure out that the number 16 if perfectly divisible by four. Monday morning,Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier shared a graphic with his team that highlighted this point and broke down the Vikings schedule into smaller quarters, each of which they are trying to win.
"We’ve also kind of broke [the schedule] down into quarters," Christian Ponder said Wednesday. "We went 3-1 in the first quarter and right now we are 0-0 in the second quarter."
Ponder and the Vikings kick off the second quarter of their season this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Mall of America Field. In fact three of the Vikings next four games for the Vikings are scheduled to take place at home inside the Metrodome (Tennessee, Arizona and Tampa Bay). Seeing this as an opportunity, the Vikings are hoping that they will be able to ride the wave of energy generated by their home crowd to "win" the second quarter of their season.
"I feel like playing at the Metrodome, playing at Mall of America Field is such a disadvantage for the away team," Ponder added. "It gets loud in there, especially on the offensive side of the ball for them. We’re excited about that. I think it’s going to be big for us and we just have to focus on putting in that preparation and that work to win the second quarter."
The Vikings finished the first quarter of their season with a 3-1 record, winning two games at home and one on the road. While the team is enjoying their fast start, they're also looking at the second quarter of the season as one where they can begin to prove their worth in the league.
"One of the things that happens sometimes in that second quarter, is it begins to separate," Leslie Frazier shared on Wednesday. "You start seeing teams that are for real and those that are pretenders. We want to be a team that’s for real."
Despite their 3-1 record and being tied for the lead in the NFC North division, the national media is not treating them as if they are for real. It's an any given Sunday mentality for their opponents, but it's going to take more for the national pundits to begin noticing this plucky little team from Minnesota.
If the Vikings can parlay their first quarter success into further second quarter winning, the nation and other opponents will have no choice but to take this team seriously.
"There are no champaign bottles being popped in September," Frazier said. "It's so early in the season and we've all seen teams that have gotten off to good starts and they're nowhere to be found when December rolls around. We don't want to be one of those teams."
Frazier's Monday message to his team focused in on the things that the Vikings have done well through the first quarter of the season. Hard nosed defense, protecting the ball and ball control highlighted the coaches talk but the focus remained around maintaining the attitude through all four quarters of the year, and hopefully another quarter beyond that.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN