A new quarterback, a new head of steam and a world of possibilities are just some of the exciting aspects surrounding the 2011 Minnesota Vikings season. But amidst the possibilities are a few scary contests that the Vikings will have to overcome.
Littered throughout the 16 game schedule are six particular matchups that makes a few of us—and probably the coaching staff—shudder to think, considering how grueling they will probably be.
For the record, the Vikings have the 12th hardest schedule with a combined record of 132-124.
Today, I thought it would be a neat little idea to run through those games real quick, and perhaps speculate a bit further into what could happen, and/or, what could be on the line when that challenge comes traipsing along.
I’ll make it a fun little power ranking, so feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, and enjoy the read!
The conundrum about this matchup is simply what will be.
On the one hand, the Chargers could walk into this matchup fully loaded with Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and a potent complimentary ground game.
On the other hand, Gates could be the only receiving threat left in San Diego after the CBA talks.
I will assume, however, that the Chargers try to follow an assumed player accord and hold onto their receivers for at least one or two more years, making this game pretty scary.
Last year’s Vikings pass defense wasn’t as bad as many seem to think, but they were incessantly burnable, and with players such as Gates and Jackson on the field, the game could easily get out of hand real quick.
Then again, there is still the slight possibility of Jackson wearing purple for the game too, right?
At this point in the season, the ninth game on the Vikings schedule could be the most pivotal game of their season, and it just happens to occur in the frozen tundra of Green Bay on November 14th on Monday Night Football.
Under the bright lights the Vikings secondary, again, will get a huge test against what looks like the league most potent aerial attack, in a classic see-saw matchup.
I picked this game because of the conditions, and be aware that the Vikings could face a tough few weeks beginning with this game.
1. In Green Bay, at night, in November.
2. On the Monday Night Football stage.
3. A possible pivotal moment in the 2011 Vikings season.
4. A divisional rematch against the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Let us assume the best case scenario with the Vikings walking into this game 5-4, in a showdown with one of the most intimidating GROUND assaults the NFL has to offer.
With this projected record of 5-4, the Vikings’ postseason run continues to hang in the balance as the Raiders come rolling into town.
The Raiders were the league’s second best rushing team, marginally behind divisional rival Kansas City.
But what makes the Raiders additionally deadly, was their ability to move the ball through the air out of the backfield as well.
The Vikings could take advantage of a Raiders O-Line that is under some change right now with Robert Gallery’s expected departure (New England bound, I think ), the suspected retirement of Langston Walker, and the adjustment period that comes with a new coaching regime.
But it’s still a scary matchup non-the-less with little weaknesses to exploit.
The Falcons are a highly favorite to make it deep in the postseason, and even challenge for a Super Bowl appearance.
The Falcons will enter the 2011 season with an even more potent air attack, with the addition of draft darling Julio Jones, to compliment an already deadly Roddy White.
The Falcons and Vikings have been locked in a back-and-forth dance since 1999, and while the Vikings are due up for the win, the two teams seemingly are worlds apart, with the Falcons having a clear edge at the moment.
The Vikings, yet again, could be in a must win position lest be knocked out of the post season hunt altogether.
A scary contest with a lot of potential ramifications to deal with.
While I don’t see the Lions making it past 8-8, what I do see is a team that will get notoriously stronger as the season progresses and a continued solidification of team unity in play.
By Week 14, the Lions will be on cloud nine as one of the most improved teams of the season, and they could also be playing the part of potential spoiler; what better way to fill the role than against a divisional opponent like the Vikings.
Since 2001, the Lions are 3-17 against the Vikings, but are also a vastly different team than most of those years.
In other words, mixing vengeance with being a potential spoiler is a pretty scary matchup.
Again, let us assume that the Vikings postseason possibilities are still hanging in the balance here for fun.
With that said, a showdown with the Monsters of the Midway is about as intimidating as it gets—figuratively speaking of course.
The reason here is simply because the Bears could be in the same position, making this game the biggest enchilada on the schedule.
But even if the Vikings are out of the race at this point—also a possibility—you still have to envision this game being a tough, scary matchup altogether.
It’s the Bears for crying out loud, and despite the Vikings leading the overall matchup by a tune of 52-45-2, the Bears have owned the Vikings in their last three matchups.
The high point to this game, however, could be that the Vikings could wind up playing spoiler if out of contention, which would cause the bears to play harder, inevitably causing this game to get out of hand real quick.
And there you have it, kids. Got a game? Let me know below.
And as usual, if you’re interested in some early fantasy advice, check out my latest Early Quarterback Rankings, and please feel free to visit me at my newest venture over on Minnesota Sports Nightly, which is a new site dedicated to all sports related to Minnesota.