The NFL announced Tuesday that it will be officially releasing the entire 2017 schedule at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday.
What will the Minnesota Vikings’ schedule look like? Well, we know that they will play the Cleveland Browns in London in either Week 7 or Week 8 and they will face off – as every team does – with division foes at the end of the year. With those (very loose) parameters, here’s what an ideal schedule for the Vikings would look like:
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Opening at home is always nice. Crowds early last season were deafening for opponents. Sure, going against Drew Brees isn’t the easiest way to open your year, but the Saints still haven’t fixed their defense. This one would offer entertainment value, a chance for the Vikings’ pass defense to shine and the offense to gain some early confidence.
AT Chicago Bears (3-13)
Not that you’d assume a loss to the Saints, but if the Vikings did come up short in the opener, they would want a winnable game the next week. It’s a long season, but this team can’t afford an 0-2 start. Outside of the London game, the matchup with the Bears is the easiest road game. The Vikings could either bounce back from a loss, or feel strong at 2-0.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
One of the least interesting games on this year’s slate. At least fans can come downtown in warm weather.
AT Detroit Lions (9-7)
The Vikings probably want to get the Lions in during the first quarter of the season after two crushing losses last year. Plus, with great quarterbacks on the way, Matt Stafford offers a good tune up for the bets of the best.
AT Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
By now, everybody’s on the same page and there’s lots of film to see how the Falcons have changed post-Kyle Shanahan.
Los Angeles Rams (4-12)
The Rams have a great defense, but the Vikings should feast on Jared Goff. You want a very beatable team in between the two toughest opponents on the schedule.
AT Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Hi Aaron. Again, spreading out the super tough matchups here. Give the Vikings two straight home games leading up to their long trip.
Cleveland Browns (1-15) (London)
London or the moon, the Vikings shouldn’t lose to the Browns. Give them a week off after this one to prepare for the home stretch.
AT Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
Even if Ben Roethlisberger has been in the league for a long time and Mike Zimmer knows his traits very well from his Cincinnati days, you’d still prefer to face an elite QB coming off the bye.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
Like the matchup against the Ravens, this one belongs in the middle of the slate because it has very little intrigue.
AT Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Who isn’t excited to see Everson Griffen against Matt Kalil? We should probably expect Cam Newton and the Panthers to be a more formidable opponent in 2017, even if his new left tackle isn’t much of an upgrade.
Detroit Lions (9-7)
At this point in the season, the Vikings and Lions might be in similar places. Get a win here and you’ve got a leg up going into the final stretch.
Chicago Bears (3-13)
Need a home win before three pretty tough games.
AT Washington (8-7-1)
Another chance to exorcise the demands of a tough 2016 loss. You’d rather face Washington later than sooner. If they struggle early, the wheels will come off because their franchise is a disaster.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
This is a tough one. Do you believe that Jameis Winston will have made serious progress by Week 16 or that the Bucs will be out of the NFC South race by then? Tough call.
Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Why not? Home against the Packers, possibly with a playoff spot or the division on the line. There’s the potential for serious drama here.
The Vikings face elite quarterbacks in five games and decent ones in all the rest except for Cleveland and Chicago. It’s not an easy list of opponents, so you hope some of the greats are spread out and you can end the year by beating Rodgers.
*Editor’s note: Leave your schedules or changes in the comment section*