Whenever I look at a season schedule, I have a tendency to break it down into four game blocks. They have a really tough start again this year, a pretty manageable middle set of games, and then a tough close out. Let's take a look.
|1||9/7||Noon||at St. Louis||Edward Jones Dome|
|2||9/14||Noon||New England||TCF Bank Stadium|
|3||9/21||Noon||at [EFF THOSE GUYS]||Mercedes Benz Dome (WHAAAAAT)|
|4||9/28||3:25||Atlanta||TCF Bank Stadium|
Man, that's a tough start. First off, WOO HOO OPENING DAY IN ST. LOUIS WOOOOOOOOOO!. There's really only one game I'm going to say the Vikings have a chance to be favored in, and that's the Rams game. But right now, they're listed as five point dogs in early betting lines. No seriously, THERE ARE ALRADY BETTING LINES OUT FOR WEEK ONE:
NFL opening line Per @LVSuperBook - Packers at Seahawks (-5), Saints at Falcons (-2), Vikings at Rams (-5), Browns at Steelers (-5)— Covers.com (@Covers) April 24, 2014
The reason they're underdogs, of course, is because they are on the road. And the Vikes have been pretty 'meh' on the road in recent seasons. Let's take a look at the next four:
|5||10/2 (Thur)||7:25||at Green Bay||Lambeau Field|
|6||10/12||Noon||Detroit||TCF Bank Stadium|
|7||10/19||Noon||at Buffalo||Ralph Wilson Stadium|
|8||10/26||Noon||at Tampa Bay||Raymond James Stadium|
The second block of four games features Minnesota's only schedule prime time game, the Thursday Night game in week five at Green Bay. The schedule tends to get easier after the Green Bay game. There's only one home game, against Detroit, but two of those three games are ones I think the Vikings can win. In the first eight games, they have only three home games at the Bank, but they really make up for that coming up. Moving on to the third quarter:
|9||11/2||Noon||Washington||TCF Bank Stadium|
|11||11/16||Noon||at Chicago||Soldier Field|
|12||11/23||Noon||Green Bay||TCF Bank Stadium|
|13||11/30||Noon||Carolina||TCF Bank Stadium|
Now we see the home/road imbalance start to get made up, with three home games and a bye. Basically, after the October 26th road game in Tampa, the Vikings will be home for the entire month of November, with the exception of the November 16th game at Chicago. A game which I'm already writing off, because the Vikings never...ever...win in Chicago. If the Vikings can get to the halfway point at 4-4, which I think is very doable,the schedule really sets up nicely here for them to make a playoff move. Let's look at the final four games:
|14||12/7||Noon||New York Jets||TCF Bank Stadium|
|15||12/14||Noon||at Detroit||Ford Field|
|16||12/21||Noon||at Miami||Sun Life Stadium|
|17||12/28||Noon||Chicago||TCF Bank Stadium|
This finish isn't bad, all things considered. The two road games, Miami and Detroit, are either indoors or warm weather, so the Vikings only have two cold weather games. Man, it's nice to say 'cold weather home games' after all these years. Anyway, the home games are Chicago and the Jets, and overall, the second half of the scedule sets up rather nicely for the Vikes.
So, there you go. Assuming the Vikings defense is better...and we are going to assume that it will be, because it can't be much worse, and the play from the Vikings QB position is better...again, same assumption premise as the defense going on here, I think this can be a good season for the Vikes. I'm not going to call playoffs, but an improved defense and quarterback play gets this team to a very realistic 8-8 or 9-7.
And with a lucky bounce here and there, who knows what can happen?