It’s probably not news to you that the 2015 NFL schedules were released. Looking to the Vikings schedule, I can’t get over the fact that we’ll have to wait until 9:20pm central time on Monday night in order for our season to kick off. Is the off season not long enough as it is?
Looking beyond week 1, the Vikings have arguably the toughest schedule in the entire NFL. Let’s make some wild assumptions about how well the team will fare in the new year. Of course this is purely for fun, we’re one week from the draft and these teams won’t take final shape for months from now.
Week 1: @ San Fransisco 49ers = WIN
I am sure I will eventually get over the start time of our season opener and watching Teddy Bridgewater throw touchdowns on former Viking Chris Cook. Cook took to twitter last night expressing his excitement to play his former team, although I think his primary focus should be on making the final roster. I suspect the 49ers will be a mess coming out of training camp and won’t be as much of a challenge for the Vikings as they would have been two years ago.
Week 2: vs. Detroit Lions = WIN
Don’t get me wrong, I think Detroit will still be a good team in the NFCN, but I don’t doubt that they’ll have to overcome some of their defensive losses due to free agency. If the Vikings do in fact retain Adrian Peterson, I suspect he’ll run wild in this game with Detroit having to start two new defensive tackles in the middle of their defense.
Week 3: vs. San Diego Chargers = LOSS
This game will depend a lot on whether or not the Chargers part ways with Philip Rivers as it has been rumored. If the Chargers do hit the reset button at quarterback, this game should be an easy win for the Vikings. Until then, however, San Diego will continue to be a strong team lead by a really good quarterback.
Week 4: @ Denver Broncos = LOSS
By my count, the Vikings haven’t won in Denver since 1993 and I don’t think we start now. Peyton is winding down his career, but is still more than effective. Couple that with Denver’s strong defense and you have a tough environment for the Vikings to win in. This game will tell us a lot about the 2015 Vikings and will be our best chance to gauge how good the defense really is. I think the Vikings will make the game competitive, but will ultimately come up short.
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: vs. Kansas City Chiefs = WIN
It will be interesting to see which Chiefs team we will see in 2015. They have the potential to be outstanding defensively, even with the expected loss of safety Eric Berry. The Vikings played poorly coming off their BYE week in 2014, losing on the road to Chicago. Kansas City’s offense doesn’t really threaten us with their passing game and I am betting on the defense corralling Jamaal Charles.
Week 7: @ Detroit Lions = LOSS
It’s weird that we wrap up our series with Detroit this year before even seeing Green Bay or Chicago. Although I took the Vikings at home against the Lions, I don’t think they’ll be able to steal two from Detroit this year. Since 2010, the Vikings have only won once while playing the Lions on the road (2012). Oddly enough, they also lost when playing the Giants in Detroit after the Metrodome roof collapsed in 2010.
Week 8: @ Chicago Bears = WIN
If the Vikings want to make any kind of serious run in the division, they’ll have to win two games against Chicago. With the current state of the Bears team, the Vikings have an opportunity to do so. Brandon Marshall is gone and Josh Robinson is very thankful of that. The Vikings should have won in Chicago last year, but played terribly coming out of their BYE week.
Week 9: vs. St. Louis Rams = WIN
St. Louis could be a dangerous team with their defense leading the way, but I’m not sure I trust Nick Foles enough to think he can win against the Vikings defense on the road. Don’t let their record or draft position fool you, this team beat the Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers in 2014.
Week 10: @ Oakland Raiders = WIN
I do think Oakland is onto something. I liked the free agency moves they made this off season and they are in a position to add serious talent to support Derek Carr in the upcoming draft. That said, I still think the Vikings can and will win this game. If these games pan out the way we’re discussing, it would be an impressive 3 game win streak for Mike Zimmer and his staff.
Week 11: vs. Green Bay Packers = WIN
The Packers are obviously very good. I realize it might seem like a biased pick, but I do think they will win at home.
Week 12: @ Atlanta Falcons = WIN
The Vikings easily beat the Falcons at home this past season and I think they’ll win on the road as well, probably not as convincingly though. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but his offensive line is really bad. Atlanta will have to fix those problems to give the Falcon’s offense any chance for success. I think Everson and Anthony Barr feast in this game.
Week 13: vs. Seattle Seahawks = LOSS
Seattle is going be very good for a long time. I’d like to think the Vikings are competitive here, but it has the potential to get ugly very quickly. Any road to the Super Bowl will likely run through Seattle, so the Vikings will have an opportunity to really measure themselves against the current kings of the NFC.
Week 14: @ Arizona Cardinals = LOSS
Tough back to back games for the Vikings. After what will likely be a very physical game against Seattle, the Vikings will have to travel to Arizona to face a Cardinals team who won 11 games last year while starting like two dozen different quarterbacks. Very good team lead by a great coach. Tough back to back losses for the Vikings.
Week 15: vs. Chicago Bears = WIN
I do think the Vikings will sweep the series with the Bears this year. The Bears might be a bigger mess at this point of the season than they were in week 8.
Week 16: vs. New York Giants = WIN
The Giants are in a weird spot. They mostly beat up on bad teams in 2014, but do have wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. primed for a big year. Manning could be brilliant, or terrible. He’ll probably be terrible. The Giants did bring back defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in hopes of rebuilding what was once a good defense. I think the Giants will be better in 2015, but not good enough.
Week 17: @ Green Bay Packers = LOSS
Playing at Lambeau in January doesn’t sound like a Vikings friendly environment. Here’s hoping we’ve clinched the playoffs and sit our starters to keep them healthy!
Final record: 10-6
Going 10-6 would be a tremendous improvement for the Vikings. As I noted at the top, it is argued the Vikings have he most difficult schedule in the entire league. Knowing that, 10-6 might be a stretch for a Vikings team that might have major holes on the offensive line or at linebacker. I think the Vikings show improvement in Zimmer’s second year, here’s hoping it’s enough to push them into the post season.