Minnesota Vikings: Analyzing the 2012 Schedule
The 2012-13 schedule for the NFL has been released, and while the official week-by-week listing won't be available until the end of the month, home and away matchups are known and ready for analysis and discussion.
Because the season is so far away, it's impossible and almost naive to attempt to guess the outcome of every match; there are simply too many unknown factors to try to predict.
What we can do though, is look at whether the 2012-13 schedule is easier than it was last year for certain teams, and what that will do for their overall chances.
You'll find a complete breakdown of their schedule compared to last year, as well as the three most exciting matches to look forward to in 2012.
Ready? Let's roll.
Minnesota Vikings in 2011
Last year was not a year to remember for the Minnesota Vikings.
The team finished last in the NFC North, second to last in the NFC and third to last in the NFL with a 3-13 record—chalking up just one win at home and no wins in their division.
Yup. Tough year.
Whilst they showed signs of promise under Christian Ponder rather than Donovan McNabb, the Vikings' offense still focused heavily on Adrian Peterson, who took Minnesota to the fourth best run offense in the league.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, it simply wasn't enough to compete throughout the season—something they will be desperate to rectify in 2012.
Starting with the easy one, the Minnesota Vikings played six games against teams from the NFC North—one of the league's toughest divisions to complete in.
The team failed to win a single game against the Packers, Lions or Bears last year, with their best chance a 26-23 overtime loss to Detroit at home—a match that they led 20-0 at halftime.
The Vikings also played the NFC South, and came out 1-4 against those teams. The team's sole win came on the road in a surprise upset over the Carolina Panthers.
Minnesota also played the entire AFC West last year and failed to win a match in that series. The Vikings were competitive in all four matches, and lost each by one touchdown or less, but they were unable to walk away with the win.
The team's other two matches came against the Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Redskins and Minnesota went 2-0 against these sides. On the road in both matches, the Vikings won big over the Cardinals before a seven-point victory over the Redskins.
As far as toughness goes, it was relatively tough for the Vikings, especially with some touch matches at home.
Their division still remains the biggest hurdle for Minnesota to overcome if they are to be a genuine threat in the National Football League.
The Vikings will again play their six divisional matches—a schedule that appears tougher than last year.
Green Bay and Detroit will both be out to avenge their playoff losses and, once you include a vastly improved and healthy Chicago Bears side, the NFC North is incredibly difficult.
Minnesota will take on the entire NFC West—a division also on the improve.
San Francisco will once again be a thorn for the NFC teams, and sides like Seattle and Arizona will be stronger in 2012. Christian Ponder will need to step up against these defensive units if the Vikings are to have a chance in these matchups.
The AFC South is also on the radar, the home of Andrew Luck, who the Vikings will get to witness firsthand. Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston will all bring great defensive presence to their encounters, making it a tough few weeks for the Vikings.
The Vikings will complete their schedule with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and an away game to the Washington Redskins—a rematch of last year's encounter.
They will come up against Robert Griffin III in the Redskins, who will be a handful for the Minnesota defense. However, if they had to pick two teams to be selected with, the Bucs and Skins aren't too far from the top of their selections.
Just how strong is their schedule? Let's find out.
Comparing the strength of schedule
Divisional matches will no doubt be tougher in 2012.
Green Bay will be better, Detroit will be better and Chicago could well be the most improved team in the league next year.
Unless the Vikings get their groove going early, they could be in for another long season.
Tougher year? 2012.
The NFC West is also no doubt a tougher task than the NFC South was.
The Vikings were never going to be able to stop the offense of teams like the Saints and Falcons, but they were able to sneak a win against the weaker defense of the Panthers and almost against Tampa Bay.
Considering also that their own secondary won't provide too much resistance, the NFC West is tougher.
Tougher year? 2012.
The team's matches against the AFC South will prove to be another tough ask for the Vikings defense, who will need to step up against mid-level sides such as Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indy.
Still, compared to the AFC West, anything is tougher.
Tougher year? 2012.
Their other matches are also tougher in 2012, but not by much.
Minnesota plays the same team in the Washington Redskins, who simply have to be a better side under RG3.
And whilst Josh Freeman may have been woeful in 2011, he will bounce back in 2012 and turn the Bucs' fortunes around, making this year tougher than the last.
Tougher year? 2012.
Three games to watch:
No. 1 — Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay hates Minnesota and Minnesota hates Green Bay. So put the two together, and you have one fantastic football game.
No. 2 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
The year may not be a complete write-off for the Vikings, but it isn't far from it on first glance.
Minnesota only won once at home last year, and if this match is early in the season, it could well be the first chance that home fans have to celebrate something.
High quality? Not a chance, but sometimes, that's quite okay.
No. 3 — Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
It's a potential win for the Vikings, though if late in the season, could have ramifications for the number one draft pick.
It's just a hunch.
As far as scheduling goes, 2011 was tough, but 2012 is definitely tougher.
Which year is the tougher schedule for the Minnesota Vikings?
Minnesota comes up against a tougher division in the NFC North, with the Vikings slipping behind the other three in terms of class, skill and all-round ability.
Their defense will get a workout against the two top quarterbacks in the draft, and the Vikings' offense will have a hard time against some of the top defenses in the league.
All in all, it's not looking like the brightest of years for the Minnesota Vikings.
Unless their defense can stand tough, and their offense can find a groove not seen in 2011, it may well be all over before it even began.
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