It feels wrong to already cast a gaze towards next season with a playoff game only four days away, but I wanted to point out that next year’s opponents are known.
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals
There are a few things that jump out to me about this schedule. First, it should be noted that the “home” game against the Steelers will indeed be played in London. Obviously, that means home field advantage will not be at its normal heights and, in fact, the international stardom that the Steelers possess could mean the crowd is affecting the game in their favor.
Second, I can’t help but notice the plethora of mobile quarterbacks that will (most likely) face the Vikings. Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers will of course be on the schedule twice. Outside of them is RGIII, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, and Russell Wilson. I’m not including Michael Vick because he is likely to be out in Philadelphia and I have no idea where he’ll end up.
Mobile quarterbacks have been an issue for the 2012 Vikings. They lost games to Rodgers, Cutler, Andrew Luck, RGIII, Josh Freeman, and Wilson. For the mathematicians in the group, all six of the Vikings losses were delivered by these shifty signal callers.
Of course, more recently, the Vikings have found success against Cutler and Rodgers at home, but otherwise their victories came against quarterbacks that aren’t really considered major flight risks.
The 2013 schedule pits us against running quarterbacks in nine matchups and I suspect this will need to be a point of emphasis this offseason, both in coaching current players and deciding which ones to add.
I suspect that Antoine Winfield, if he decides to continue playing, will be paid his $3 million salary without question from the Vikings. They will also need to bolster the middle of their defense with smart and athletic players that can play instinctively against these quarterbacks, and have the range to shut down their attempts.
I already thought that defensive tackle, linebacker, and strong safety were needs this upcoming offseason. After seeing this schedule, I am even more sure that upgrades will be needed.