The Vikings must be shaking their heads at the two matchups they are required to begin their season with.
Week 1: Sunday, September 11 @ San Diego Chargers
Week 2: Sunday, September 18 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be the Super Bowl contenders that everyone has nightmares about, but their pass rush defense sure will light a fire under a gasoline can in the unstable quarterback position in Minnesota.
Everyone knows how important the quarterback is to the overall success of a franchise. It is the most publicized and criticized occupation in the National Football League and both teams will take their time undressing that distinct weakness that has been in the media ever since Brett Favre’s concussion ended his starting streak.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,298 yards but if the component handing off the ball is not a complete advantage as a passer and a ball protector, even his freak of nature qualities will not be of assistance.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are aching for another run at the playoffs, as their 2010 season ended with a record of 10-6, not yet solid enough for a postseason berth. Minnesota must make the franchise-shifting decision of either drafting a quarterback in the first round, where two of the highly touted prospects in Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert may already be off of the board, or waiting around for a collective bargaining agreement to be concrete and bring in a veteran such as Philadelphia Eagles’ Kevin Kolb or Washington Redskins’ Donovan McNabb.
In the event that they will bring in a rookie quarterback fresh off the university circuit, it will be imperative to bring in a quarterback who has an extremely unforeseen ceiling and little room for catastrophe.
Thankfully, the Vikings will have to face the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins and the Denver Broncos, none of which are bombproof in the QB position on the field either.
Week 8: Sunday, October 30 @ Carolina Panthers
The best matchup of all that Minnesota has been able to draw in the melee of this looming lockout is the Carolina Panthers. Although the Panthers will have home-field advantage in Week 8, Minnesota will be able to exploit them for what they truly are.
A roster full of misfits.
The only piece of the Carolina franchise that fans have to smile about is the possible arrival of Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton and….well, there is nothing else that the Panthers have to smile about.
This will be a piece of the schedule that the Minnesota Vikings will be able to shake off their discouraging start and regroup. Will they run completely over Carolina? Depends on which direction the Panthers head in and how much time they have to make personnel changes on their roster.
Week 7: Sunday, October 23 vs. Green Bay
Week 10: Monday, November 14 @ Green Bay
The lowest point of the Vikings’ schedule comes from their meetings against the defending Super Bowl Champions. Aaron Rodgers had his way with the Vikings in their last meeting Sunday, November 21, 2010 and was responsible for four touchdowns and 301 yards of offense leading the Green Bay Packers to a 31-3 victory over the wilting Brett Favre.
The Packers-Vikings rivalry may have been alive and well in the 2009 season, but Green Bay proved without a doubt who was in control of the present day matchup.
The Vikings will not be able to contend with the Packers defense, as they were not able to last season. Not much has changed but the level of confidence that Green Bay will come to the table with. Peterson only rushed for 72 yards in that meeting and with the defensive edge that the Packers will seemingly add to their roster from the deepest defensive NFL draft since 2003, we may just be in store for a replay.
Minnesota will most likely end their season without a postseason entrance and another disappointing display of the possibilities of a franchise not coming to fruition. Will they have another 6-10 season? No. I do not believe that Leslie Frazier will allow the team to fall that far under his leadership and approach to the game.
Under his reign, the Vikings were playing with more confidence in their step and actually appeared to be worth their weight in silver. He has provided fans with a new outlook on a franchise that was slipping to the pits under Brad Childress.
Still, even with him in place, the questions marks behind players such as Bernard Berrian lead me to believe that this team is still not geared for a full field turn around. They have a ways to go and will probably not see another playoff until the 2012 season.
Minnesota Vikings Full 2011 Schedule
Sept. 11 at San Diego, 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 18 Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 25 Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 2 at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 9 Arizona, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 16 at Chicago, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Oct. 23 Green Bay, 4:15 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 30 at Carolina, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Nov. 6 BYE
Nov. 14 at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 20 Oakland, 1 p.m. (CBS)*
Nov. 27 at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (FOX)*
Dec. 4 Denver, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)*
Dec. 11 at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)*
Dec. 18 New Orleans, 1 p.m. (FOX)*
Dec. 24 at Washington, 1 p.m. (FOX)*
Jan. 1 Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX)*
*Game time subject to change