USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Vikings have one of the NFL's tougher schedules in 2013, based on how everyone finished the 2012 season.
Based on the 2012 standings, the Vikings have the 10th-hardest schedule in 2013, with their 2013 opponents finishing the 2012 season with a combined record of 132-124-0, a .516 winning percentage. The toughest schedule in the league belongs to the Carolina Panthers, who face opponents with a .543 winning percentage.
Minnesota has six games against teams that made the 2012 NFL playoffs in 2013. They have two games against the Green Bay Packers, a home game against the Washington Redskins, and road trips to play the Seattle Seahawks, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the world champion Baltimore Ravens.
Strength of schedule doesn't mean as much as it used to for a couple of reasons. First off, relative to the rest of the division, 14 of the 16 games that each NFC North team plays are identical. The only differences are which teams from the NFC West and NFC South each team in the NFC North plays in 2013.
The other reason is that, with parity being what it is in the NFL, it's getting tougher every year to know who's going to be good and who isn't, and who will improve or regress from one season to the next. Lots of teams probably had the Vikings chalked up as an easy win this past season, but they had a seven-game turnaround from 2011 to 2012. A strength of schedule based on 2012 results could end up meaning very little in 2013.
But, at the very least, it gives us something to look at going forward.