Many Minnesota Vikings fans have been looking forward to the 2014 season for weeks now. Last year at this time we were going through playoff scenarios to see how the Vikings could sneak into the postseason; this year we're looking at the draft board to see how the Vikings can sneak up the order.
But before the team can overhaul their roster, coaching staff, and whatever else needs fixing for next year, they need opponents to play in 2014. Thanks to the NFL's handy scheduling formula, we can already tell you with near certainty who and where the Vikings will play next year. The only thing we can't tell you today is when. The official schedule usually isn't released until mid-April so we'll have to wait until then to know the week-by-week schedule.
For those unfamiliar with the NFL's scheduling formula, 14 of the 16 games for 2014 have been set for quite a while now. Each NFL team has their usual six divisional games, which are home and away against their three divisional opponents. After that they play every team in one division of each conference. With four teams in each of those divisions, that adds eight games to the schedule. In 2014 the Vikings' NFC North division will play against the NFC South and AFC East. And just like that, we already know 14 of the 16 opponents for next year.
So what about the other two games? That depends on how teams finish this season. The last two games for each team are based on the two divisions within each team's conference that aren't assigned to play each other. With the Vikings, since they already play the entire NFC South next year, the other two divisions are the NFC East and NFC West. The team that finishes in the same position in those two divisions is who you play the following year.
We already know where the Vikings are going to finish in the NFC North--last. They could still finish with the same record as the Packers, but due to their 0-1-1 head-to-head record against Green Bay they'll lose the tiebreaker. Therefore, whoever finishes last in the NFC West and NFC East this year will be opponents for the Vikings next year.
It looks like the Rams will finish last in the NFC West. The Cardinals could still finish in the division cellar but one more St. Louis loss or Arizona win will clinch last place for the Rams. Meanwhile, the dumpster fire that is the Washington Redskins will almost certainly finish last in the NFC East. The Giants are still in play to fall behind Washington, but let's be honest--there's no way that Washington is going to make up two games on New York with just three weeks left in the season.
OK, so all 16 opponents for the 2014 Vikings are more or less set. How do we know which games are at home and which games are away? Don't worry about that part--there's a website for that! FBSchedules.com has already provided us with who the Vikings will host and who they'll visit next year. Unless Washington and St. Louis pull themselves out of their division cellars in the next three weeks, here are the home and away opponents for the Vikings in 2014:
|Home Opponents||Away Opponents|
|Chicago Bears||Chicago Bears|
|Detroit Lions||Detroit Lions|
|Green Bay Packers||Green Bay Packers|
|Atlanta Falcons||New Orleans Saints|
|Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|New England Patriots||Buffalo Bills|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins|
|Washington Redskins||St. Louis Rams|
Don't you just love the NFL scheduling formula? We're a full nine months away from the 2014 season but we can already start planning road trips and debating about the difficulty of the schedule.