About a year ago at this time, I lamented the power and allure of the NFL which trots out its new schedule, makes an event of the process and everyone receives with it bated breath. (I think I did. But if not, I should have.) Well, I must admit that I was a little curious this year to find out the who, what when and where of the Minnesota Vikings 2019 season. I figure that as soon as you get on to the new season, you can forget about the previous one, which certainly was one worth forgetting.
So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is the Vikings schedule for the 2018 season, and I have sprinkled in a little breakdown analysis. And being a great numbers crunching/analytics kind of guy (mmm hmmm), I decided to attach some number to it. Each game will have a little grading system based on a four-number scale that goes like this:
1-Vikings will lose
2-Vikings should lose
3-Vikings should win
4-Vikings will win
I know I can just put a W or L at the end of each game and add them up for a total number that will say plenty about how their season will go. But where is the fun in that? I am a high-level Money-baller. The more numbers the better. With my scale (as soon as I am done here, I will be endeavoring to copyright the scale, if in case this deep dive hasn’t already been scooped up by some other young and enterprising Michael Lewis aficionado.) Probably not.
So, without further ado, because I know you have been dying waiting for this, here is the Vikings 2019 schedule:
Sunday, Sept. 8th vs ATLANTA *
Sunday, Sept. 15th @ Green Bay
Sunday, Sept. 22nd vs OAKLAND
Sunday, Sept. 29th @ Chicago 3:25 PM
Sunday, Oct. 6th @ New York Giants
Sunday, Oct. 13th vs PHILADELPHIA
Sunday, Oct. 20th @ Detroit
Thursday, Oct. 24th vs WASHINGTON 7:20 PM
Sunday, Nov. 3rd @ Kansas City
Sunday, Nov. 10th @ Dallas 7:20 PM
Sunday, Nov. 17th vs DENVER
Sunday, Nov. 24th BYE WEEK
Monday, Dec. 2nd @ Seattle 7:15 PM
Sunday, Dec. 8th vs DETROIT
Sunday, Dec. 15th @ LA Chargers 7:20 PM
Monday, Dec. 23rd vs GREEN BAY 7:15 PM
Sunday, Dec. 29th vs CHICAGO
*Home game opponent in All CAPS.
And here is that aforementioned analysis with its most excellent grading system, that when all is said and done, we should have a good read on how the season will go. Might as well close down this site until the season starts, because no other speculation will be necessary.
The Vikings open at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The last two hosts of the Super Bowl meeting at U.S. Bank Stadium (can we now stop all that talk about one of these two being the first team to host its own Super Bowl appearance? We did, already? Okay, good.) These two underachievers from 2019 don’t warrant any primetime viewing to start the season, but it will be a big game for both, as they quickly try to put a disappointing 2018 behind them. Vikes QB Kirk Cousins wants redemption, so it is good to start at home where he can get the crowd behind him. The Vikes defense, if Xavier Rhodes is ready to go and can blanket Julio Jones, will be too much for Matt Ryan and company. I like the Vikes. Grade: 4
With a win in the pocket, the Vikings head to Lambeau to take on the rebuilding Green Bay Packers. Good to get Aaron Rodgers and the boys outdoors in the Fall before the ice settles in. Cousins rose to the occasion there last year, but kicker Daniel Carlson did not. The Vikings can play with this team that will be trying to figure itself out under a new coach and offense. It will be close game again, and the Pack’s defense will be improved, but the Vikings should eke this one and really start off the season flying. Grade: 3
The Raiders, where ever they will be from this season, will meet the Vikings in Week 3 and this team should be no challenge for the Purple. They traded away plenty of blue chippers since head coach Jon Gruden came to town, and will be a young squad with all the draft picks, trying to figure out life in the NFL. They do have Antonio Brown for Rhodes to consider, but he hasn’t been too tough for him in the past. Three and O—here we go. Grade: 4
Week 4 will be the first bump in the road to redemption. The Viking head to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears in their first high-profile game of the season (at 3:25 pm). I am just glad it isn’t on Halloween, or on a Monday Night and all that other stuff that has happened in recent years. Da bears will be the Vikings’ toughest competition for the division crown this year (as they are defending champs) and Da Vikes won’t have them completely figured out yet. The Bears defense won’t skip a beat with their new coordinator and the punky, er, funky or no-longer clunky QB Mitchell Trubisky will have another year under his belt. He will do enough. Grade: 2
The Vikings head to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants in Week 5 and all they have to do is contain running back Saquon Barkley (no easy task) and the win is in the bag. No Odell Beckham, Jr. to deal with (Xav can take the week off, as he may be ailing by that time) and the Vikings know what Pat Shurmur is going to do anyway. Getting this early road win will go a long to making the season turn out right. Grade: 4
A Giants win will be big, because the Philadelphia Eagles come to town the following week and it should be a battle royal. For the Vikings to succeed in 2019, they need to win nearly all their home games due to a difficult road schedule. Local legend Carson Wentz returns to the area and will likely have plenty of fans in the stadium. The Eagles will have to take the visitors’ locker room this time as they return to the site of their Super Bowl championship. The Vikings will have to be ready to go, as Philly will bring its own kind of energy to this one. But there are enough Vikings still around who are stinging from the NFCCG loss in Philly to roll over. Expect a had fought game. Grade: 3
Week 7 finds the Vikings in the Detroit Lions den. The Lions are led by second-year coach Matt Patricia, who didn’t exactly win over Motor City in his head coaching debut season. We may know early how their season will go. Many are saying it could go bad for the Lions, but I think Patricia will get it figured out. The Vikings, with a win, could have this team reeling early, but it won’t be that easy. Divisional games at home can bring the best out of teams. And they won’t be a pushover here. Grade: 3
Week 8 is homecoming week for . . . quarterback Case Keenum (oh, and Adrian Peterson, too) as Washington heads to The Vault for a Thursday night game on a short week. AP will be fired up. He wanted to end the Vikings season last year in the playoffs, he wanted to destroy them the season before as a member of the New Orleans Saints (neither of those things materialized) and he will want to wreck their season again. But how will Case respond? The game is in October, so there shouldn’t be any need to shovel his walk, if he still has a house here. Keenum will likely be the guy instead of Alex Smith, and that just adds to all the QB drama between these two teams. (Speaking of the Saints, it’s a good thing they aren’t on the Vikings’ home schedule this year, because the massive reunion of former Vikings will be too much to write about—perhaps in the playoffs). The Vikings like to tackle Peterson and they should know how to get to Case. Grade: 4
Loss number two happens in Week 9 when the Vikings go south to face the Kansas City Chiefs. The Vikings have a few extra days to prepare for this one, but they will be slightly befuddled by Patrick Mahomes (last in town for the Final Four). Fleet of foot QBs traditionally give them trouble. I am just hoping for no highlight mega-runs, a la Steve Young, Michael Vick and RGIII that we have to watch forever. The Vikings will compete, as the Chief’s Achilles is still their defense, but their offense is just too good. Don’t see a win here. Grade: 1
The game is followed up by a tough road game the following week against the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas took a step forward last season and their stars Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott may be figuring each other out. The tough offensive line underachieved last season, so I look for them to rebound this year and open up the offense. And the Dallas D is catching up. If this game were in Minnesota, I would give it a three, but I don’t feel much confidence for the Purple down in Big D. Grade: 2
The Denver Broncos come to town the next week and the Vikings should have an idea on how to handle them, since former Bronco coaches Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison and company joined the Minnesota coaching staff. The Broncos have been slowly eroding since Peyton Manning helped secure them a Super Bowl title in 2015. The addition of Vic Fangio to the head coaching spot will keep the defense rolling, but they are still struggling to find a quarterback. Kubiak on the Vikings could very much be the difference here. Grade: 4
Sunday, Nov. 24th is the Vikings bye week. The Vikings go into the bye with a win and hopefully don’t get too fat and happy or need any stuffed animals bloodied. I will be writing Haikus. I know, you can’t wait for those either.
The Viking will have 14 days without a game before they head west to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night after the bye. That is a lot of time away, but also a lot of time to prepare. (The Seahawks will be coming off a road Sunday night game in Philadelphia before this tilt.) The Seahawks started slowly last season but came on in December and made the playoffs. Expect them to be a tough road opponent once again for the Vikings, who have lost their last four contests to Seattle. They should make it five. Grade: 2
The Vikings head home to host the Lions. The Vikings will win. Any arguments? Grade: 4
Then it’s back on the road to California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers (hard to keep up on these changing teams names). The two franchises have only met 12 times and they have split it 6-6. It will be the first time playing them in LA, where the Vikings have plenty of fans and perhaps the Chargers don’t yet. The Chargers are a decent team. And they should win this game, but I won’t give it to them. I could go either way on this one. Grade: 2
The season comes down to these final two games, and the first one is a Monday Night game at home against the Packers. One of the two teams could be out of it by then (but I wouldn’t say that team would be the Vikings). The contest will be hard fought regardless, both on the field and perhaps in the stands—these two teams have a history. I like the Vikings here, but they need to watch that Josey Wales, I mean, that Aaron Rodgers, “I’ve seen him do some things!” Vikings have to win. Grade: 4
And finally, in what is becoming an annual season finale matchup, the Vikings host the Bears—this will be five out of the past six seasons. The Vikings were embarrassed last year at home against the Bears and got booted from the postseason. I can’t see that happening again, but the Division/playoffs should come down to this game. I can’t guarantee it (because, basically, I have nothing to do with it), but I am still picking the home team to win and make the postseason. Grade: 3
So, then, the tally. If the Vikings were to go undefeated and I wrote that they would, they would get a total of 64 points with this grading system—if I predicted them to copy the Lions and Browns of a few years ago and go winless, they would still garner 16 points.
Where does this team fall, you may ask? The 2019 Minnesota Vikings earned 49 points. That would be above average, I am thinking, and good enough for the postseason. But what will their record be (so you can understand just what these intense and involved analytics mean)? Well, let’s take a look:
The Vikings got seven grades of four. So, that is seven wins right out of the gate. They received four grades of three, and if we postulate they should turn three of those into wins (this is the Vikings after all), that brings them up to 10 wins. That leaves four should-lose grades of 2 (and the one grade of 1 for a sure loss to the Chiefs), and if the Vikings win one of those, which they typically do (I am going with the Chargers game), they finish with an 11-5 record. That is good enough for the playoffs, since three NFC teams with worse records made the postseason in 2018. And that works for me.
There, how’s that for some way-far ahead preseason speculation based on nothing other than the schedule of games? As it is, you shouldn’t hold me to it, but if my predictions come true, I would be glad to reveal my exhaustive research methodology. We can discuss them over a beer after the Vikings victory parade.