After years and years of the Vikings, regardless of their record the previous season, it seemed like the Vikings always ended up with one of the rougher schedules in the NFL. Sure, a lot of of that could come from my bias as a fan of the Vikings for over 25 years, I can accept that, but it just always seemed off to me. Like a lot of things Vikings. Regardless, there’s good news to be had, as the Vikings, as things stand right now, have the fifth easiest schedules in the league in 2017, on paper, that is.
A lot of things can and will change by the time the Vikings make it through this 16 game marathon, as you can never really say how good an opponent is up until probably the week or four before that game (Just ask the Vikings opponents before and after their Bye week this season). But, because it’s the off-season and there is very little to talk about right now, check out the Vikings schedule for 2017 and the apparent ease of said schedule… Cough.
Home Games: The Packers, Bears and Lions (SINCE WHEN?!?), The Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints (HISS), Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
Away Games: The Packers, Bears and Lions (SINCE WHO?!?), The Washington Red Skins, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns (In London).
Now really, that doesn’t sound like the easiest schedule to me. I mean, the Tampa Bay Buc’s are an up and coming squad (So much so that it’s apparently one of the other teams that Adrian Peterson would like to play for), the Cincinnati Bengals are a tough squad, too. We have two playoff teams in the Lions and Packers in our division, as well. As far as our away games (The bane of the squad last season) the Vikings face the ‘Skins, a team that beat them in 2016, the Panthers, a team one season removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Steelers (A stacked squad, especially on offense) and the Atlanta Falcons (A team a few weeks removed from a Super Bowl loss). Wow. Not the easiest schedule, again, at least on paper.
Now, I’m sure that when we face some of these teams, especially the Falcons, they’ll be shells of their former selves. As history hasn’t been kind to the teams that lose Super Bowls (Just ask the Panthers, who we also play, obviously). But, right now looking at a team that lost to the Pats in the AFC Championship and the team that lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, seems a bit more daunting than the title would suggest (To be fair, I took the title from an article that turned me on to this idea from 247 Sports). With Free Agency coming up quick, however, a lot remains to be seen, and one of the reasons that teams that either win or lose the Super Bowl end up falling off the following season is that they lose a lot of their players to free agency. So, again, a lot remains to be seen in that regard.
For those teams and for the Vikings, who are in desperate need for some new offensive lineman, it appears that a lot of change is in order this off-season, change that’ll determine just how difficult the Vikings schedule will be. Some of those offensive lineman, that the Vikings (or at least their fans) are coveting, are currently part on the Cincinnati Bengals organization. Both, Andrew Whitworth (Left tackle) and Kevin Zeitler (Who plays right guard, I’ve been told, by the internet) may be available and hyper expensive (Over $13 million, based on just their 2016 salaries) and are looking to cost even more based on 2017 projections (At least double, actually). Both of those players, though, are my number one and two favorite free agent offensive lineman. So, take that, Cincinnati.
My point across this entire article is that while up-coming season schedules are mostly pointless (When it comes to planning or even predicting a teams record), it still is something to chew on in the middle of February. I will say though, that this particular schedule is probably going to end up a lot easier than the past few seasons, and so the Vikings should be a bit more relived than they’re used to. At least historically. Mostly because the Vikes are facing two teams that recently lost the Super Bowl to the AFC, something that the Vikings as an organization are accustomed to and thus best able to take advantage of. So, at least as things stand now, we can be excited for the 2017 season and it’s on paper easy schedule!