Of course, that’s what every Minnesota Vikings fan thought after the team released its 2016 regular season schedule last week. A road game against the Tennessee Titans to start the year? Mark it down as a win. The Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 2? The Cheeseheads don’t stand a chance.
As you make your way through the schedule — the 18th-toughest in the league — it’s easy to convince yourself that the Vikings can and should win every game. Why not? That’s the fun of the offseason, when every team is 0-0 and optimism is at an all-time high. And although I enjoy the Purple Kool-Aid as much as the next fan, I’m not ready to proclaim the Vikings just the fifth team in NFL history to finish the regular season undefeated.
Still, the NFL Draft isn’t for another nine days, and there’s plenty of time to speculate. The team at Vikings Territory will release their own predictions later this week, but we want to hear from you! How do you think Mike Zimmer and Co. will finish the regular season?
Players reported to Winter Park for offseason workouts yesterday, and many shared their thoughts with Vikings.com team reporter Eric Smith. Sharrif Floyd, always a recognizable voice in the locker room, is excited to play in so many primetime games (the Vikings have four total this season, with three games on or near holidays).
“I looked over it and noticed a lot of prime time games this year,” he said of the schedule. “It’s about time. The Vikings have been working hard the past few years and now the whole world gets to see us instead of just the Midwest.”
Last year, the Vikings finished the season with two straight primetime games, winning both to claim the NFC North and more importantly, shake their reputation as losers on the NFL’s most visible stage. They’ll have a chance to alter their reputation completely in 2016 and vault themselves into the long-term conversation as contenders. Games against the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and of course, the rest of the NFC North, should allow the Vikings ample opportunity to flex their muscles against the NFC’s best.
Looking at the schedule above, Minnesota is in a position to improve on its 11-5 record from 2015. A strong showing in free agency, the continued development of players like Teddy Bridgewater, and hopefully, another deep draft class should translate to even more success on the field. Will they get there, or are the Vikings in for a letdown after surprising the NFL world last season?