June is an obviously tough time for NFL fans. Sure, mandatory minicamps run, and we see players on a field for the first time in a bit. Without a lot of concrete stuff to talk about, speculation is sure to ramp up. See Cook, D (yes it’s over but man there was a lot), Cousins, K, and Hunter, D.
Obviously, none of us find ourselves in the rooms where the sausage is made. If any of us were, we would be making a heck of a lot more money, and certainly not spewing about it on this beloved site.
It is a handy site that takes past winning percentages and applies them to find out who has the hardest schedules, not for the benefit of success, but for, you guessed it, tanking! If that isn’t an impartial approach, I don’t know what is.
According to their data nerds, the Vikings have the toughest schedule in the NFC north, and 6th toughest in the conference. The Lions are next in the NFC north at 22nd (10th in conference), the Packers at 25th (12th), and the Bears at 28th (13th).
The creation of the schedule is a massive endeavor with broadcasting, logistical, and divisional/conference requirements to take into account.
The Vikings’ toughest opponents are expected to be the Chiefs, Eagles (A), Bengals (A), ‘Niners, Lions (x2), and Chargers. The Purple and Gold’s easiest are set to be the ‘Bucs, Falcons, Packers (x2), Panthers (A), and Bears (x2) (In my opinion, the Broncos should be penciled in here too).
Everyone in the NFC north will play the defending champs, the Chiefs.
The Vikings “toughest” opponents for this upcoming year had a combined .687 winning percentage last year. Doing the same math for the NFC north, the Lions sit at .607, the Packers at .588, and the Bears at .549.
This backs up the sentiment that tougher teams have tougher schedules (except if you're a Cardinals fan, sorry. Just kidding, we’ll never forgive you for 2003) and weaker teams have weaker schedules. This is a clear mechanism to increase parity/competitiveness in the league.
Breaking down each conference by combined win percentage, the AFC sits at .498 and the NFC at .503.
That’s an incredible amount of parity between the two conferences, which backs up why the Super Bowl was so close. Good on ya, football overlords.
Lets now look at things division-by-division:
AFC East - .556 NFC East- .647
AFC North - .569 NFC North - .485
AFC South - .353 NFC South- .426
AFC West - .514 NFC West- .455
Clearly, the NFC East was the toughest division in football last year, backing up common sentiment. What surprised me was how rotten the AFC South was. I thought the NFC South was a disgrace, but sheesh.
The Vikings are matched up against the NFC South this year for intra-conference play. Win! It was the worst division in the NFC last year.
For inter-conference play, the Vikings are matched with the AFC west. Even with the defending champions, it had the 3rd best win percentage of all the AFC divisions.
Do I think the Vikings got a nice schedule this year? Well, it probably could have been worse. People were saying the Vikings had an easy schedule for 2022 during the season, but matching up against the NFC East in what would be one of its better years says otherwise.
This year’s slate looks like a good balance of everything. There are underdog games, games where the Vikes will be big favorites, tough road trips, home field advantages, prove-it games, don’t mess this up games, and even a shot at the defending champs.
What’s not to like?