Vikings Schedule Seems to be Favorable with a Good Time to Face Packers in Thrilling Opener at Residence


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Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Inexperienced Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) seems to be on the sphere through the fourth quarter towards the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Financial institution Subject. Necessary Credit score: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports activities

Vikings Insider, The GM’s View 

I’ve at all times loved the NFL schedule launch, regardless of the annoying latest transfer by the NFL and the TV networks to leak just a few key video games earlier than the complete unveiling. When a workforce’s full schedule comes out, it makes the season forward extra actual for gamers, coaches, workforce execs, and followers.

I additionally subscribe to the Bud Grant principle on schedules as he mentioned, “It’s not who you play however if you play them.” Bud referred to the ebb and circulate of workforce fortunes throughout a season, with accidents and climate typically enjoying a big position. His assertion is also apropos within the modern-day NFL when there will likely be 5 – 6 (or extra) new playoff groups every year in comparison with the earlier season, so groups we expect will likely be good or unhealthy based mostly on previous efficiency might look completely different come recreation week.  

The Vikings—in Coach Kevin O’Connell’s debut season—hope they’re a kind of new playoff groups in 2022. I believe they acquired a positive schedule as they attempt to enhance on final 12 months’s 8-9 end that led to the teaching and entrance workplace overhaul.

Kevin O’Connell

The season opener at residence towards the Packers on Sunday, September 11 at 3:25 pm (in a nationwide doubleheader recreation) is useful to the Purple for a number of causes. Let’s first keep in mind the final time Inexperienced Bay opened at U.S. Financial institution Stadium — in 2020 with the pandemic raging and no followers within the stands.

Aaron Rodgers feasted on no crowd noise and a rookie-filled Vikings secondary as he threw for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 43-34 win. However two of these TD passes went to Davante Adams and one to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Each have now left Inexperienced Bay. 

So Rodgers will likely be working with a lesser receiver corps that features second-round choose Christian Watson (who Inexperienced Bay famously selected after buying and selling up with the Vikings). However Watson will simply be getting his ft moist as an NFL beginner. That’s excellent news for the Vikings secondary which will embrace No. 1 choose Lewis Cine at security and No. 2 choose Andrew Sales space Jr. at cornerback. 

The opposite excellent news for the Vikings protection on this opener is their high cross rushers–Danielle Hunter and ex-Packer Za’Darius Smith (who must be additional motivated towards his former workforce)—must be wholesome and raring to go within the opener. And it helps the house workforce’s cross rushers get off the ball faster when there are full-throated followers in-house. 

Za’Darius Smith

Additionally to the Vikings benefit will likely be that the Packers’ two first-round picks — linebacker Quay Walker and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt — enjoying their first NFL common season recreation. By the point the 2 groups meet once more on New Yr’s Day in Lambeau Subject, the Packers high three picks must be extra impactful.

To not say it will likely be straightforward to beat the three-time defending NFC North champs, which definitely gained’t be the case. However higher to play Inexperienced Bay in an opener on the street for them. It labored properly for the Saints final season after they crushed the Packers 38-3 in a recreation relocated to Jacksonville as a result of Hurricane Ida.

The Vikings undoubtedly want a greater begin than 0-2 that haunted all of them final season after they misplaced heartbreakers in Cincinnati and Arizona. This 12 months’s Week 2 at Philadelphia on Monday Night time Soccer additionally will likely be robust because the Eagles, coming off a wild card playoff spot, will take a look at the Minnesota cross protection with game-breaking receivers A.J.  Brown and DeVonta Smith. 

If the Vikings can a minimum of cut up these first two video games, they’ve an inexpensive likelihood to start out 4-1 as Detroit at residence, New Orleans (in London), and Chicago in Minneapolis are up subsequent. Dealing with the Saints at a impartial website and never having to play within the raucous Superdome is a giant assist since that is technically a New Orleans residence recreation, which additionally units up a positive schedule by way of Minnesota having 9 residence video games, seven true street video games and one at a impartial website. Mike Zimmer needs that was the case final 12 months when his workforce had eight at residence and 9 on the street.

I like that the Vikings schedule alternates residence and away for the primary eight video games. The Week 7 bye is somewhat early, however it’s acceptable because it falls after three preseason and 6 common season video games have been performed, so the gamers will likely be prepared for a break.

Weeks 10-12 look additional tough when the Vikings face a powerful Payments workforce in Buffalo after which battle the Cowboys in a Sunday late afternoon residence recreation earlier than internet hosting a Thanksgiving recreation (for the primary time in workforce historical past) towards the Patriots in prime time. I personally beloved when our groups performed on Thanksgiving in Detroit or Dallas because it gave us a uncommon weekend off through the season, and it’s an edge to be the house workforce on a Thursday night time and never must journey on a brief week.   

Minnesota has a pleasant stretch from Weeks 11-16 after they play 5 of six video games at residence, together with very winnable video games — we assume as of now — towards the Jets and Giants. This might enable them to place themselves properly for a playoff spot going into two chilly street video games to shut the season—at division rivals Inexperienced Bay and Chicago. Hopefully for the Vikings sake, they’ll make a greater exhibiting than final 12 months’s 37-10 fiasco towards the Packers in Week 17 at Lambeau, which eradicated them from the playoff race, and we’ll always remember that as the sport unvaccinated Kirk Cousins was absent as a result of Covid.

Total, I’d say O’Connell and the Vikings must be very pleased with their 2022 schedule because it seems in mid-Could. However once more, as Bud Grant mentioned, issues (re: climate) and opponents can and doubtless will look completely different when the video games truly happen.

Across the NFL Schedule Observations:

It’s an thrilling Thursday night time opener on September 8 when the defending Tremendous Bowl champion Rams host the Payments. Ex-Ram Von Miller is now in Buffalo to chase Matthew Stafford whereas Payments QB Josh Allen tries to maintain Aaron Donald from tormenting him. 

The Monday Night time opener must be enjoyable with Russell Wilson returning to Seattle with the Broncos to face his former workforce. Tom Brady and the Bucs journey to Dallas for a very good Sunday Night time opener. Tampa Bay additionally has a tough two-week stretch in Weeks 3 and 4 after they host Inexperienced Bay and Kansas Metropolis.

And on your pre-planning, this season’s Tremendous Bowl Sunday will likely be February 12 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals hope to be the third straight workforce to play in a Tremendous Bowl of their residence stadium after the Bucs and Rams did so the previous two years. 

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was chosen NFL Govt of the Yr after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based mostly in Minneapolis and does different sports activities consulting and media work together with school/company talking. Observe him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl 


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