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Updated: October 3rd, 2012 1:10pm
Leslie Frazier tells Vikings next 4 are where 'it begins to separate'

Leslie Frazier tells Vikings next 4 are where 'it begins to separate'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier put up a graphic in Monday's team meeting to illustrate the importance of carrying over their early success to the second quarter of the season.

The Vikings will play four games in 19 days beginning on Sunday against struggling Tennessee, with three of those games on their home field.

"One of the things that happens a lot of times in that second quarter -- it begins to separate," Frazier said on Wednesday.

"You start seeing the teams that are for real and those that are pretenders. We want to be a team that's for real."

Boosted by consecutive upset wins over 2011 playoff qualifiers San Francisco and Detroit, the Vikings are tied with Chicago atop the NFC North Division at 3-1.

Only one of their next four opponents -- the NFC's other early-season surprise, 4-0 Arizona -- has a winning record.

"We went 3-1 in the first quarter, and right now, we're 0-0 in the second quarter," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "Obviously, we'd like to win each quarter, and it's a huge advantage for us to have three games at home."

After facing the Titans (1-3), the Vikings visit Washington (2-2) on Oct. 14, then return home against the Cardinals on Oct. 21 and Tampa Bay (1-3) four days later.

They don't play another NFC North team until Nov. 11 against Detroit, starting a run of five out of seven division games to close the season.

Frazier said his message to the team focused in part on what the Vikings can do better, as well "our preparation each and every week, not taking any situation for granted, but just understanding what we've done to get to this point."

The Titans likely will be without starting quarterback Jake Locker on Sunday and are 1-6 all-time in Minnesota. But they've won 10 of their past 13 on the road against NFC foes.

"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," Frazier said. "We don't want to be one of those teams.

"We know we have a lot of work to do. We know we have a lot of improvement to do. But all of us have been around long enough to know that there are no champagne bottles being popped in September. So, we have to be smart."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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